A ‘Well-designed’ Search Box Design: Best Practices

Illustration by Rafika Aulia Rahma

The search box is usually the most frequently used design element on a website. Simple and sometimes isn’t very in mind when coming into the design process, one might think this doesn’t need any special design on it. But, it will be deadly for business and lead to a bad user experience, thus less excited visitors and fewer conversations on your website.

The search bar can help your visitors to find important content that they’re looking for. It would be best if you started to think about customizing the function, design, and placement of the search box. It is a good start!

Many website features tend to grow over time and will continue to add a lot of new features, content, and navigation options. All these contents, features, and navigations don’t necessarily fit the whole information architecture that was well-designed and thoroughly structured when the website was initially designed. But, it will more be irritating with a low navigation scheme, because the contents will appear everywhere instead of contained separate.

Photo by Edho Pratama on Unsplash

When content organization appears to be a mess and seems nearly impossible to find information, visitors doubt to browse the website’s available sections. They are more likely to either leave the website (hitting the “Back” button and returning to Google’s search results) or turn to the only escape hatch they (hopefully) have: the ‘godly’ search box.

Besides giving your visitors what they are looking for, the search bar will help you build your new website in the future. You can find visitors searching for the same things repeatedly, which are valuable keyword information you can use for SEO and for building new site pages.

Photo by KOBU Agency on Unsplash

You can also take a look and see if a search results page is the last destination for users before they exit your site. Chances are, they were unable to find what they wanted and went elsewhere. Now you can know what was missing and see if you can fill the void. On the other hand, a poorly-designed search bar will only frustrate visitors and send them away. If you’re going to include a search box, it must be done right and get the benefits from it.

Not every website needs internal search functionality. However, you often have to meet visitors’ needs for quick access to information, mainly when the website is growing. If the website’s navigation is intuitive and straightforward and there are very few articles “lying around” and not fitting your navigation scheme, search. Hence, a search box won’t be necessary.

An efficient search engine puts visitors in control of their search for information. When visitors encounter a relatively complex navigation system, they will immediately look for a search box to quickly and painlessly get to their final destination. Essentially, it’s a defense reflex: search lets visitors assert independence from the website, which can (unintentionally) irritate visitors and dictate how they should use the web.

Photo by Ben Kolde on Unsplash

Consequently, if your website is pretty large and likely to grow in the future, it is a good idea to consider adding search functionality upfront. Your users will be grateful to you for that.

When considering search box design, creativity isn’t at the top of the list. Instead, meeting expectations is essential. A search box is a common element found on many websites, and the majority of web browsing begins with a Google search. Here we put together the best practices to design a search box on your website. Follow our general guidance on how to create a search bar that your visitors will love.

We’re all used to using a magnifying glass as the nonverbal symbol for search, so use it rather than be unique. For the best results, use a simple icon with fewer details as it will be most comfortable for people to recognize.

The search box is an essential function for your website or app; you should be displayed prominently, as it can be the fastest route to discovery for users. Instead, use an actionable search box prominently displayed on the screen. Make it as simple as possible for visitors to use by reducing any unnecessary steps and clicks.

You should always provide access to the search box on every page because if your visitors didn’t find the content they are looking for, they would try to use your search regardless of where they are on your website. It’s especially important to provide a search box on 404 pages.

If you make your search box too small, only a portion of longer search terms will be visible, which’s annoying for visitors. In some cases, a smaller search box will discourage visitors from searching with the terms they’d prefer and cause them to choose shorter words to try to make them fit.

Most visitors will expect to get search results after pressing the “enter” key so you want that functionality. For everyone else, make sure there’s a big, easy to find “search” button to click after entering a search term.

If you design a search box, make sure it looks like and works as simple to use as possible. Be careful with advanced filters. Advanced search options can confuse users who will try to use it.

For the most robust websites, searching will be a fundamental way for visitors to quickly and easily find what they want. When your search functions are difficult to find, cumbersome to use, or missing entirely, users will likely go elsewhere rather than spend a lot of time clicking around in hopes of getting lucky.

Getting the right search results displayed in a significant format with useful ways of sorting it is also essential. And if your visitors get overwhelming, irrelevant, and frustrating results, they will eventually give up. As with all elements on your website, when you design them with your visitors in mind at every turn, you will create a positive experience for them, which is always good for you.

Contyributor: Deta Ayudhia S

A global brand and experience digital product design agency that builds digital products to move at the speed of culture.