Finding the Horror in Search

December 15, 2012

Taking the perspective of retail Web site users, SLI Systems’ blog examines “Site Search Horror Stories: Horrific Hidden Search Boxes and Menacing Merchandising.” Hyperbole? Perhaps, but then we have been fearful since we learned our beloved publisher used to investigate search vendors whose clients believed the installation did not match the statement of work. But I digress.

SLI’s Kemberly Gong aims to help online marketers by steering them clear of issues that will scare away customers. She recalls sites that make it an ordeal to find their search boxes, and even one that had no search function at all. Terrifying! (Well, frustrating anyway.)

Gong emphasizes some basic principles:

“Your search box should be a harbinger of safe, effective site search, clearly visible at the top of the page. Then give customers a prompt such as ‘What are you looking for?’ to lead them to begin shopping. When customers search for products, they are more likely to buy because they have a clear idea of what they want, and are looking for it directly. Make sure they find it. . . .

“Allowing refinements of search attributes such as brand, color, rating, size or other product specification lets customers quickly narrow down results to find their desired product. Instead of searching for ‘bolt’ and finding thousands of options, Dr. Frankenstein can narrow the selection by material, diameter, length and thread pitch to make sure it’s just the right fit for his monster.”

Yes, I think it best to avoid angering the mad scientists among us. Though these tips seem like common sense to many, there are obviously still a few sites out there that need the information. Let us hope they are not afraid to act on it.

Cynthia Murrell, December 15, 2012

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