Module 3: Creating an effective mobile UX

3.2.2 Site search

Site search is vital for helping mobile users find what they’re looking for in a hurry. This section offers tips for maximizing the value of your site’s search.

1. Make site search visible

Position site search near the top of your homepage via an open text field.

Users looking for specific information usually turn to search, so search should be one of the first things mobile users see on your site. In the study, participants responded best to easily visible, open-text search boxes at the top of a page.


2. Ensure site search results are relevant

Make sure site search returns the strongest results first, and implement smart-search features like auto-complete and spelling corrections.

Participants didn’t bother to swipe through multiple pages of search results. Instead, they judged a site’s search based on the results it returned first; so make sure your first page of search results are the strongest. Make life easier for users on small screens with smart-search features like auto-complete and corrected misspelling.


3. Implement filters to improve site search usability

Offer filters to help users get what they need from search, but make sure users can’t filter a search to return zero results.

Participants relied on filters to narrow down search results, and actually abandoned sites that couldn’t reduce volume. One car-dealer site allowed participants to specify configurations that didn’t actually exist. Ensure users don’t filter themselves into a box and help them avoid problems by letting them know how many results will be returned with a particular filter applied.


4. Guide users to better site search results

If your offerings can be easily narrowed by segment, asking a few questions up front helps ensure visitors see relevant results.

For sites that serve diverse customer segments, it can be helpful to ask users a few questions before they search to ensure they get results from the most relevant content segment. For example, a large shoe retailer began its mobile searches by having participants select the gender and size of shoe they were looking for.

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