In light of the overwhelmingly positive feedback and responses garnered by this blog (originally posted August 7th, 2014), the Nextopia team has decided to tailor and repost this blog, with a few minor additions to help optimize your onsite search box and maximize conversions on your website.
The search box. An often overlooked but incredibly powerful feature of any eCommerce store. The pathway to improved sales, higher conversion rates, and a better user experience. That is, if you can get visitors to use your search tool.
Creating search boxes that convert has become something of a science and we wanted to drill down to the center of the issue, and figure out what makes a fundamentally effective search box. After some research and exploration on the subject, here are 3 tips for improving your search box design to increase your conversions: bold placement, clean design, and familiar features.
1) Bold Placement – Promoting Use
The first tip in creating a high-performing search box is to place it in a noticeable, convenient location where your visitors can easily find it. By placing it the header of your webpage, for example, you are promoting its’ usage, ensuring that new and returning visitors can find it immediately.
Although there is some discrepancy on the issue, leading online retailers typically place the search bar in the center of the page, which promotes its use for first time visitors, and makes it easy for returning users to quickly search for their items.
When placing your search box, take some time to consider the area surrounding the search box. Keeping the area clear of clutter or other tools ensures visibility and contributes to a better user experience.
2) Clean Design – Simplifying the Experience
Effective placement will get visitors to notice your search box, while attractive design and clear instructions will entice users to perform a search.
A search box is made of two components: an input field, and a ’submit’ button. The user enters their query in the input field, and initiates the search by clicking on the ’submit’ or ’search’ button. Because they have differing functions, make an effort to differentiate the input field from the submit button through your design.
Design considerations include: input field width and height, text in the search box (if you have some, make sure it disappears automatically when clicked), color schemes, sizing, and the icons or images used.
Text can be used to clarify what users can search for, while sizing can be used to further attract attention to the search box. The magnifying glass is the most common search icon used. But, most importantly, whenever you make changes to your search box, make sure you A/B test the results to see which designs perform better.
3) Familiar Features
The final general requirement for a world-class search box is having familiar features and functionality included. Familiarity builds a sense of trust with visitors, and allows them to use your website in a way that’s comfortable to them.
When your search tools lack familiar features and capabilities, it creates an unsettling and foreign feeling for the user as they have to adapt their behavior to your website.
What are these features that users and shoppers are so familiar with? For starters, being able to search by pressing the enter button. That’s a very basic capability that users expect to have when they visit a website. Tools like autocomplete, where results are preemptively displayed with recommended products, are also now familiar to users.
Search refinements are also a familiar feature, giving users the ability to dive deeper into their initial query. Fuzzy matching, or the ability to return the appropriate results based on a misspelled query, is another important feature that has become commonplace for users.
Incorporating these features into your site search allow you to offer a comfortable and powerful user experience for your visitors. These tools also allow your search to perform better with higher conversion rates and average order values, so it’s a win-win situation for everyone involved.
Better Search Starts With the Search Box
As we mentioned at the beginning of this post, you can only reap the benefits of site search like increased conversion rates or fewer customer service calls if your visitors are using your search box.
Have you had any search box success? Do you know any tried and tested ways to improve the search experience? We want to hear it! Join our conversation over at @Nextopia, or call our team at 800 360 2191 for more information.