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  • Writer's pictureDinh Huy Truong

Insights of an Efficient Search Box

Updated: Aug 11, 2023

An effective on-site search is considered as the key interaction point and also the heart of an e-commerce website. According to EConsultancy, when intending to find a right product, typically “up to 30% of visitors will use the site search box”, and each of them is showing a possible intent to purchase by entering product names or codes. That means, the more using on-site search, the more chance to bring products closer to prospective customers, as well as increasing the purchase rate of the website efficiently.


There is no magic! An effective on-site search itself is a good design based on studies of human interaction and psychology, which we will explore this with the insights below.


Facts and Figures

  • 80% of consumers will abandon a site after a poor search experience.

  • 8 seconds or less is all the time you have to help someone find what they want.

  • On average, users who complete a search are 1.8x more likely to convert.

  • In the case of detail-oriented products, while less than 10% of visitors may perform onsite searches, upwards of 40% of a site’s revenue came from them.

  • Prospects convert at least 4x more than those who don’t use search functions.

  • eConsultancy talks about cases where site search visitors are making up as much as 13.8% of the overall revenue.

The insights

Now, let’s see insights of effective on-site search in details.

1. Less effort required, more success gained

In 1954, Paul Morris Fitts discovered the Fitt’s Law that helps us estimating the human movement time in generally — more details about Fitt’s Law, flows this link https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fitts%27s_law. Nowadays, by applying Fitt’s Law the companies located their on-site search cleverly so that people can make a quick interaction with it.


For example, to reduce the interaction time, Amazon.com increased the search box’s width and also put it close to the address bar. The result is, after entering the website address, people can reach the search box almost instantly.



2. Ease of recognition at the first glance

As a matter of fact, most people tend to ignore an action if it takes them more than 5 seconds. To prevent this, any effective on-site search is designed so that people is easy to recognize it at the first glance by applying the researches of human’s visual perception.


For example, since the color is an essential of human’s visual perception that is able to recognized firstly. Walmart highlights their search box in strong color (Dark-Blue). Therefore, whenever people visit walmart.com, their eyes are easy to catch the search-box at a first glance.


3. Clear is over aesthetic

Due to aesthetic reasons, some on-site searches are designed in differently, strangely or even insufficiently to recognize. In some cases, this will takes people much time to find and input a search request.


Half year ago, we also conducted a research with 30 people who are used to do online shopping. At the end of this research, we found out that the magnifier icon without boxed did not get attention well compare to traditional search button with boxed. Furthermore, over 70% of participants preferred using a traditional and sufficient search bar to the modern one, even it is less beautiful.


4. Being as minimalist as possible

In 1994, Jakob Neilsen published the book “ Usability Inspection Methods”, based on a factor analysis of 249 usability problems. In this book, he mentioned about “the aesthetic and minimalist design” — 8th Heuristic of Evaluation


8th Nielsen’s:Aesthetic and minimalist design Dialogues should not contain information which is irrelevant or rarely needed. Every extra unit of information in a dialogue competes with the relevant units of information and diminishes their relative visibility.” Actually, you can see Nielsen’s 8th Heuristic through top e-commerce websites like Amazon, eBay, Alibaba…, most on-site search are made as simple to use as possible. No more than one or even no-filter is needed on the search box. Besides, the irrelevant contents are smartly eliminated during the searching time to help people focus on relevant contents better.



For example, Amazon search box is a minimalist design, just contains 3 components (a drop-down list, a text-field and a button) all of them are in-line. Furthermore, when users input a character, a layer mask appears to hide irrelevant contents behind.



5. Helping people with Predictive Autocomplete Functionality

Based on researches of Atkinson and Shiffrin, the human short-term memory is very limited. The short-term memory has 3 key of aspects below:

  1. Limited capacity (only about 7 items can be stored at a time)

  2. Limited duration (storage is very fragile and information can be lost with distraction or passage of time)

  3. Encoding (primarily acoustic, even translating visual information into sounds).

Because of short-term memory limitation, people have a difficulty to remember a long search request correctly such as “Running shoes for men in blue with size EU 4.6”. By providing a predictive autocomplete, some websites make it easier for people. Instead of inputting a long search request, they just type “Running shoes” then immediately a next suggested keyword appears i.e.; “Men shoes casual”, “men shoes running”, “men shoes dress”… Picking one then press “space bar”, the next suggested keyword will appear. Again and again, people can find which they want efficiently.



6. The convenience of Facets

The Facets, or Faceted Search, are a part of on-site search design that helps to refine or navigate the first search result by using a number of discrete attribute — the so-called facets. A facet represents a specific perspective on the product that is typically bounded and mutually exclusive.

In some cases, the facets do not only help to narrow down results exactly but also wow the people by theirs convenience and smartness.

For example, on the website Nike.com, when people input “men running black blue”

  • Firstly, the system breaks down the search-request to keywords i.e.; “men”, “running”, “black”, “blue

  • Secondly, it turns on the selected options on each facet accordingly. This is very convenient for people since they do not need to turn on options manually



I hope insights above are helpful for you to build up an effective on-site search.Also, I would love to hear your ideas and comments.


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