40% of people search first on an ecommerce Site (Neilsen).
Now that that has grabbed your attention I wanted to promote the importance of search on any site, let alone ecommerce sites. I could reel off a load of facts such as:
- 73% of people leave a site if the search function is poor - 40% of visitors will use the search box - 30% of all activity on all sites is search
A big thank you to our very own Scott Williams who noted these facts down whilst at the Manchester eCommerce expo by UBM Information Ltd last Wednesday 30th May – a truly riveting event I believe – although I’m sure you’ll hear all about it.
No, my intention isn’t to lecture on the importance of search as I think we’ve all got a good grasp of this; bottom line – it’s important (although arguably not necessary if you’ve got a well structured navigation). My intention is to denote the different types of search available because there’s having a search feature on your site and then there’s doing it well. The best way, in my view, is to understand what the user is going to type in through predictive search and there are numerous ways of doing this:
1) Auto-complete eg. Travel websites such as http://ojp.nationalrail.co.uk/service/planjourney/search 2) Auto-suggest eg. Offering more choice than the user first indicated such as http://www.ebay.co.uk. Also common in search engines that have access to personal data. 3) Instant results eg. Google instant result (www.google.com) where the results page updates as you type (generally more popular for admin-esque results such as operating systems eg Windows 7)
As a result of this, I’d like to be a bit more specific when we use the term “predictive search” as there are many different types. A site that Wilson Cooke have created - https://www.millyskitchenstore.co.uk/ is one that falls under “auto-suggest”.
There are also other elements to consider such as the size of the search box (the bigger the better), the placement of the search box (the more central the better) as well as being predictive – and below are some great articles to get you going. But in my view, the predictive site search rules all so use it and use it well.
…as a Brucie bonus, don’t forget to log your search queries with Google Analytics by turning your “site search” to on within the admin panel, that way you can understand what users are searching for and tailor landing pages and anticipate their every move.