Retail E-Commerce Usability Part 2: Search!
The web is filled with less-than-ideal retail e-commerce websites that are losing dollars over simple design flaws. This blog series shares tips on retail e-commerce usability, covering how to improve different parts of a retail e-commerce website.
Ready, set, search!
Let’s say you are looking for a new belt. If you walk into a large department store (that you have never been to before) where will you go first? Some of you will walk around looking for the right department, maybe try to find the directory and some of you will ask a customer service representative, “Where are the belts?”
Not everyone likes to browse. In fact, a lot of online customers have an idea of what they are looking for when they come to your retail website. Some customers will go straight to the search box, meaning this tool does not only have to be easy to find, but it must be effective.
Here are a few tips on making your search box and search results usable!
1. Search Boxes Belong On Top
- Usability guru, Jacob Nielson, did a study that revealed 56% of users look for the search box in the upper right hand corner, while 44% look for it in the upper left. In other words, these are your ideal two options for the search box location.
2. Search Boxes & Action Buttons should be Simple
- Keep the design as simple as possible and don’t forget to include an action button to let users “Search,” “Find,” “Go,” or “Submit.”
3. Maintain the Homepage Navigational Framework
- Keep the search results within your website’s main framework so users can easily navigate to another area after they are done viewing the search results.
4. Show Customers What They’re Searching For!
- Reiterate the search text on the results page so users can confirm their search.
- Make sure your search results are accurate!
- Unless you are selling fonts, you should use images in the search results. This way,
customers can immediately start shopping.
5. Give Customers the Power to Refine
- By giving customers ways to refine their search results, you are improving their chances of finding something they want to buy.
6. Make Something out of Nothing
- Instead of showing users a dead-end page that says “No Matches Found” or “Better Luck Next Time,” show them the closest thing you’ve got.
- Break down search terms when “No Matches” are found so users are still on the path towards a purchase.
7. Show Them What’s Relevant
- One of the most important aspects of the search tool is that is works. Customers are expecting to see relevant items related to the search terms they submit. In order to keep your search effective, make sure that all items are tagged properly. It is also a good idea to offer “Sort by Relevance” so that users know you are showing them a wider range of products for their benefit.
Applying these tips on search and search results will increase the usability of any retail e-commerce website. After all, how will customers make a purchase if they can’t find what they are looking for?
For more tips on retail e-commerce usability, check out more from this series.