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There is a lot that retailers can do on search results pages to make the route from search to purchase as smooth as possible.
First of all, results should be accurate and relevant to the query, but presentation of the information is all important.
This can pay dividends, as site search users on an ecommerce site often have a greater purchase intent.
For example, while 15% of Suttons Seeds' site visitors use site search, they contribute 41% of total site revenue.
Here are some examples from a variety of sites, each of which contain some excellent features.
Let's for a moment ignore the fact that shoes turn up in a search for blue shirts.
The impressive feature here is the way that River Island has split the results between men's and women's, as well as adding a button to see results from the kids' section.
Abes of Maine
This is excellent. Customers can filter results by reviews, including uses and features of products as nominated by users.
Paul Rouke has said that Booking.com is perhaps the most persuasive site in the world, and here's an example of why.
The reviews help, while the addition of adjectives like fabulous perhaps makes the reviews even more effective here.
Then there's the social proof. On the top result, I'm told there's just one room left and that 21 people are looking at this hotel. I'd better get a move on and book then...
Here Boden presents help and style and fit results alongside products. The filtering options are very comprehensive too.
I like the option of filtering search results by a keyword, something I haven't seen a lot on other sites.
Not the prettiest search results page, but effective in presenting the technical detail. The filtering options are very comprehensive, while the select and compare option is very useful.
Note the 'did you find it?' button too. This leads to a survey tool asking how the company can improve the site search experience for users.
A lot of sites do this, but allowing the user to select different views of results allows them to tailor their own search results.
Kiddicare was one of the first to use customer reviews as a filtering option. Something which remains a great idea, and very useful.
I could take issue with the lack of filtering and sorting options, but the visual presentation of search results is impressive:
Mouseover effects on results pages are becoming more common. On Bottica, hovering over product images on results / category pages triggers multiple product views, so shoppers can gain a better idea of the product with little extra effort.
This is an example of using redirects to category pages for popular search terms.
In this case, a search for 'fifty shades' leads to the page for Lovehoney's 'official pleasure collection'.
Here's another example from John Lewis, which redirects a search for 'TVs' to this category page.
This allows the retailer to present its buying guides, as well as showing its free five year guarantee.
New York Times
Finding a publisher's site with good site search isn't easy, with most very basic, and not very user friendly.
The New York Times is one of the best examples, with useful filters, while it also retains the search box and term, allowing for users to edit and refine their searches.
Search terms don't always relate to products, and sites should cater for this. Here, B&Q directs searches for 'delivery' to the relevant page.
In a similar vein to the B&Q example above, mobile network Three shows these results for a search for 'returns'.
I like the use of icons here to indicate whether walking shoes are waterproof, breathable etc.
AO.com gets a lot right in its search results pages. Good filtering options, clear calls to action, reinforcement of the free delivery options, key stats, as well as links to video reviews.
There's great use of social proof too, with prominent review scores and Facebook recommendations.
With what must be the biggest product range on the web, Amazon faces a massive challenge in keeping its site search results relevant.
The key here is to provide initial results which are as accurate as possible, and also providing all the filtering options that users could want.
It also makes good use of urgency, with messaging to order in the next four minutes for next day delivery.
In another example of using urgency in search results, WestJet uses limited seat availability to hurry customers along with their purchase.
I've used this example before when looking at flight search on travel sites, but it bears repeating.
If your dates are relatively flexible, this ability to view the cheapest flights over the month is very helpful for finding the best combinations of flight dates and price.
It's been harder to find good examples of mobile search results pages, which reflects the challenges in presenting search results and filtering options on a smaller screen.
Here, Mothercare shows the filtering options via a link on the search results pages.
House of Fraser
Here, results are presented well, and House of Fraser provides options for filtering, sorting, and viewing results in different formats.
The filtering options open in such a way that it's easy for users to switch back to the search results.
I love the design of this search results page, and the results are useful too, with good information on tracklistings and available formats shown within results.
Nice presentation of results, with big enough images to convey the t-shirt designs. Excellent filtering options too.
I've picked Dune for its use of quick view here, though there is plenty to admire about its search results aside from that.
Quick view, used by a number of ecommerce sites, allows shoppers to open up a mini-product page where they can view more details and add items to their basket, therefore missing a step out.
This is by no means an exhaustive list, so please suggest search results pages that have impressed you....