site search

24 best practice tips for ecommerce site search

Users of site search are more likely to convert than the average user, so ecommerce sites should strive to produce the best possible experience. 

Here I’ve compiled a list of site search best practices, along with some excellent examples from retailers. 

How John Lewis, M&S and Debenhams handle on-site search

Not wishing to sound too astoundingly obvious right off the bat, but your on-site search tool is a key way in which visitors look for products on your website, especially if you carry a huge range of items. 

The surprising thing is how easy it is to get on-onsite search wrong: bad placement, lack of auto-suggest, poorly displayed search results, and so on. 

How Walmart, Target and Costco handle on-site search

Using a selection of specific criteria I’ll be gauging how some of the top US retailers handle on-site search. 

The search tool is perhaps the most common way for shoppers to navigate an ecommerce site, so therefore its effectiveness is paramount in directing highly motivated visitors, who know exactly what they’re looking for, around your site.

Cathay Pacific unveils new responsive site, but fails to optimise checkout

A few weeks ago I reviewed the state of web design in Asia’s airline industry.

It was surprising to find that these major brands expected customers to put up with clunky, out-dated web forms and a difficult purchase journey.

But Cathay Pacific was clearly already aware of the issue and has just unveiled a new responsive site as part of a wider rebranding exercise that seeks to present a “simpler, cleaner, more customer-focused Cathay Pacific brand.”

I’d like to claim that my blog post spurred it all, but it actually comes after 18 months of planning.

The resulting philosophy will guide the design of “new websites, lounges, cabins, in-flight service, entertainment products” and more.

From our point of view the most interesting feature is the new website. So, what’s it like?

The rise and rise of search

The recent preview of OS X Yosemite from Apple caused predictable amounts of chatter online (including this article) and rightly so.

Sales of Macs hit 4.8m in Q1 2014, up from 4.1m for the same holiday period in 2013. OS X has a big impact on the conventions of UI and UX.

The feature I saw the most buzz about on social is the improved Spotlight. The feature has a new search window and a rich, scrollable preview of results that finds stuff on your Mac but now also Wikipedia, Bing, Maps, and other sources.

This is the latest reminder of how powerful search is and how consumers increasingly rely on it across technology and the web.

13 ecommerce best practice lessons from AO.com

We’re often looking for examples of good, and not so good, practice in ecommerce for our reports and articles, and there are a few sites you can generally rely on for the former. 

One of these in AO.com, formerly Appliances Online. The company was launched 14 years ago and its recent IPO valued it at around £1.6bn. 

A key reason behind the company’s growth can be found in its focus on good design and customer experience, as well as a culture of testing and optimisation.

As a result, AO.com contains many examples of ecommerce best practice that others can learn from. Here are just a few…

25 effective design patterns for ecommerce site search results

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.