This article provides a best practice guide on the placement of the search box and related elements.
When a user visits your site it is more than likely they will have a product in mind that they wish to purchase. Therefore, it is important to place the search box in a predominant position on your site so that it is obvious to the user where to search. The mantra should be make it clearly visible, easily recognizable and easy to use.
So here is our best practice guide one by one:
From years of experience of search placement the convention now used by the majority of retailers is to locate the search box in the right or center of the site header. This is simply where the user has come to expect to see it. Placing it elsewhere will increase the need for the user to find it and will inevitably reduce the site’s conversion rate.
Filter from the start
You may also find it good practice to allow a user to filter their search from the start by allowing for searches within categories through the use of a drop down.
You may also wish to consider the words in the search box. If you accept catalog numbers or product codes it is worth stating it in the search text.
Give it space
Also give your search box space; don’t allow it to be confused with other boxes such as newsletter sign-up or post-code stock locations.
The search box must be a ‘box’ with a ‘button’. Rather than a hidden element behind a search icon. Why? A user will not normally read the website, they scan the site for the common known pattern of an input box with a submit button; a relatively wide input box helps with these visual clues.
Don’t have advanced search options. Usability studies have suggested that giving the option of ‘advanced search’ actually confuses the user. One of these studies showed that most users don’t know how to use advanced search or Boolean search query syntax. So don’t include it.
Make it large
Making the input field too short forces users to use short, imprecise queries, because longer queries aren’t easy to fit in and are more inconvenient to read.