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21 May

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Search

The 5 components of a great website Search and Content Discovery experience

'Roundup' is the collection of key stuff we've either been reading, discussing or working on during the month at Avenue.

A lot of people dislike using search functionality on websites. And there's a good reason why; unfortunately it tends to suck.

Traditionally there's always been two main issues around Search functionality on websites;

  1. Poor display of search results that make it very hard for users to understand what links are relevant to their needs.
  2. Delay in seeing results due to having to wait for the results page/s to load.

The end result of these poor user experiences was that a lot of people stopped even trying to use Search functionality on websites.

It shouldn't be this way.

Search should always be a hero of any large, content rich website, as even the best website navigation design in the world cannot always deliver quick access to every nugget of content on a site.

So how do you deliver a frictionless search user experience?

Algolia search technology has been instrumental in allowing website developers to deliver far superior search experiences that deliver enormous value to users.

The concept of 'InstantSearch' utilises Algolia's features to allow the delivery of lightning fast, intuitive search results.

The 5 components of a great website Search and content discovery experience are:

1. Instant search results as you type

You shouldn't have to wait until you've finished typing your search word or phrase, and then hit the "Search" button or magnifying glass icon to see results.

The user experience is improved ten-fold when relevant results start appearing as soon as the user begins typing the first letter into the search field.

You need to deliver results instantly, with every additional letter that's typed refining the list of possible results.

2. Federated Search

Websites consists of all different types of content and content focus. A Blog post has a very different purpose to a Services or Product details page, and downloadable resources or media assets are completely different to written content.

A great search experience should be able to surface these different types of content within the one unified interface.

3. Filtering

Words or phrases that are commonplace will often generate a large amount of possible search results. The ability to filter a large mass of results into usable categories greatly enhances user experience.

Whether it be an eCommerce store that categorises results into garment types or price ranges, through to case studies where uses are able to see results broken down into project types, users should be able to filter results into sections allowing faster connection to what they are looking for.

4. Sorting

Allowing users to take further control by providing the ability to arrange content into sorted lists also vastly improves user experience.

For example, everyone loves a bargain, so if your eCommerce store allows users to sort their filtered search list of t-shirts to display in ascending order by price, it's bound to result in them having a much more positive attitude towards buying from your site.

5. Pagination

People like to understand and have control of their website viewing experiences. Intuitive pagination within search results lists is one such model that provides this positive experience.

It helps people to know if their search query has 6 results or 60. If pagination is provided with these results, it greatly improves user experience as the person can both better understand the amount of options, and feel like they have control of the discovery process.

So how does this look in practice?

We've developed a number of websites at Avenue that follow the above 5 principles, so if you're keen to see it in action, check out the search and content discovery experience on our websites such as Inspiration Grid, the 'Made of Ballarat' 2019 campaign site or Sculptform.

Brenton Cannizarro
Believing hair should be long and celebrated, Brenton was ironically bald at 28. A lover of the world game, he will never walk alone, and also has a deep passion for hard rock music.
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