Designing Helpful Websites:

The Importance of Internal Search in Your Web Design

People hate it when they can’t find the information they want. And instant information access via Google Search has conditioned your web visitors to expect the same ease of access from you.

A few months ago I wrote about adding a search box to your website. Facebook, Google and even the latest computer operating systems rely on search boxes to find information and initiate actions. Your online visitors are determined to fill their information needs. If your website doesn’t help out, they’re sure to be disappointed.

And there’s nothing worse than disappointing a customer even before they become your customer.

Research compiled by Google says that 82% of visitors use internal website search to find information, and 80% take a hike if the search results are poor quality. Google published those results in 2006, the same year “google” was added to the dictionary. Imagine what those numbers are like now, after six years of technological growth and rising consumer expectations. Don’t freak out, but your website really needs to “search well” if visitors are to convert into customers. Here’s a quick way to test the usability of your website.

Take a moment and think of three important pieces of information on your website. Close your eyes, clear your mind and open up your website in a new window. Try to find one of those pieces of information.

  • How many times did you click? Try to minimize the number of clicks it takes to find essential information.
  • Was the info easily found from the website’s primary navigation? Use simple, concise words for your navigation items, try to limit the number of items in drop down menus to five or six.
  • If you used your search box, were the results relevant? Proper tagging, “pretty permalinks” and complete meta data are boring technical details, but they’re important to get right.

Enabling an “advanced search” option and search filters are other ways to help your visitors.

A conversation about web design is a conversation about thinking through the customer’s experience online. If your product or service is supposed to make their life easier, your website should do the same.

How does your website stack up?  Check out our short eBook:  Why People Hate Your Website to discover ways to improve your web design.