Customising Site Search To Enhance User Experience

By Mark Brixton | 20 Apr 2011

Mark Brixton from SLI Systems, discusses strategies to ensure that your site search meets customer expectations and enhances the online user experience.

In the world of e-commerce, it’s no longer enough to put your newest technology strategies in place, sigh with relief and then leave them unattended for the rest of the year. Why? Because retail technology innovation combined with higher expectations from shoppers mean that you need to incorporate new features and trends into your online business whenever possible.

Web search engines and social networking services – think Google and Facebook – are raising customer expectations regarding search results and product information. Your site visitors now expect to see their searches broken down into useful categories, such as product descriptions, social media reviews, or videos.

Of course, with so many things on our to-do lists at the beginning and close of each year, it’s not easy to stay abreast of online trends and features, let alone continuously update your technology. Luckily, there are some easy-to-implement ways to enhance the experience and meet the ever-changing needs of your online visitors.

  • Get social. Make blog posts, Twitter feeds, Facebook posts and any other social media content available to your site search users so they can access a wealth of information about your products and services.
  • Separate search results by type or category. Thanks to web search engines, visitors are used to results that are divided into helpful categories. Offer your site visitors the ability to view videos, images and reviews of your products.
  • Bring ratings and reviews into search results. Allow site visitors to see reviews and ratings within results. Go even further and allow site visitors to refine results based on reviews, for instance, limiting results to products with a three-star or higher ratings.
  • Adapt your site experience to mobile users. Expect the mobile market to continue growing, and expect people to increasingly use their phones to search for products online. Launch a mobile-friendly version of your site, and monitor how your customers navigate the mobile site so you can quickly respond with improvements.
  • Integrate the on and offline experience as much as possible. If you are a multichannel retailer, visitors to your site may actually want to research products in a physical store; and visitors to your store may also want access to information before they buy. So, show ‘where to buy’ options in search results, and introduce in-store kiosks that allow customers to compare reviews and products online before they make a purchase.

Consistent site innovation is your key to success – keep looking for ways to get the right offers in front of the right audience and you’ll be more likely to stand out from your competitors. It’s a challenge, but the simple steps above will help you get your site into shape, and keep it that way.

1 Comment

One thought on “Customising Site Search To Enhance User Experience”

  1. Steven P says:

    I agree that site search is still given less attention than it should. At we haven’t gone as far as above article suggests (yet) but we were underwhelmed by “standard” site search that comes with most shopping cart software. Who decided search should only search product titles? Full search of descriptions and common mispellings is a must. Also we have found that reviewing the site search logs to see what our customers are actually searching for helped us meet needs, identify new product lines and restructure the site to make things easier to find.

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