What are the web design guidelines for search?

    What are the web design guidelines for search?

  • 1 Search should be treated as one of the most important features

    Search feature is one of the most important features on a website because a study revealed that 83% of users use it regularly. The search control should be easy to find and use.

  • 2 Search should be visible and simple

    Search input field should be visible, kept simple and wide enough for at least 30 characters.

  • 3 Search should be powerful

    A product or service that users can't find doesn't sell or exist in their perception, thus making it a critical element of building a profitable website.

  • 4 Provide a direct search input instead of a separate link

    Search should be accessible directly from the homepage, as most users expect an input field and a button next to it. If they don't see one, they assume the website doesn't have a search feature.

  • 5 Search doesn't need a separate label

    The search area doesn't require a special 'Search' label. Instead, labeling a button 'Search' is the simplest way to indicate where the search is.

  • 6 Search should be positioned in the upper part of the website

    Search should be placed at the website's top part, but below the banner area. This way search has the greatest chance of being found by users when they need it.

  • 7 Advanced search should be a separate link on the homepage if used frequently

    Options for advanced search should be a separate link below the search area if it's used frequently. The exception to this is when the advanced search is the website's norm and no simple search option exists.

  • 8 Advanced search should be excluded from the homepage if used infrequently

    If the advanced search is used infrequently, it shouldn't be included as a link on the homepage. It should instead be presented after the user gets search results.

  • 9 Homepage search should search the entire site

    Search on the homepage should search the entire site by default. Users will assume that, so it should be the default behavior.

  • 10 Avoid offering 'search the web' feature next to website's search

    Offering 'search the web' feature next to the website's own search will make the search process more complex and error prone. Users also prefer using their favorite search engine on their own if they want to search the entire web.

  • 11 Track what users search for on the website

    Logs of what users look for using the website's search can give answers on what they are looking for, how they think and where the content could be optimized to meet the user's needs.

  • 12 If search doesn't produce any results, fallback to navigation

    When a search fails to produce any results, a good practice is to lead the user to use the site's navigation to find what they are looking for.

  • 13 Employ autocorrect alternative for search

    Users often make spelling mistakes, which can severely influence the search results. If no results are found, immediately present the auto-corrected results.

  • 14 Order results by relevance and by date

    Relevant but obsolete results aren't as interesting as relevant but fresh results. Try to sort search engine's results by relevance first and then by date as well so the users get the best of both worlds.