5 ways to optimize your web search patterns with predictive search, visual cues and interactive prototyping
Designing an effective and user-friendly search pattern is key to helping your users get around your site and find the content they need. If your website supports large amounts of information, it is essential that your search pattern helps users quickly locate specific content.
Designing your search pattern with highly visual and interactive prototyping tool, like Justinmind, will help you visualize and validate your design assumption early on. Read on to see how with our 5 search pattern design best practices.
Which web search pattern should you design?
There are many search patterns to choose from. Blue Fountain Media has a great key describing all the different web search patterns available. Here’s a summary:
- Exact search – the simplest yet most widely used pattern. Keyword matching is paired with a stemming algorithm to reduce the number of search results a user receives upon searching.
- Faceted search – this allows users to refine a selection of search data with attributes such as ‘sort by’ and ‘color’. Data is sorted and grouped into tags.
- Parametric search – this presents multiple options using checkboxes, dropdowns and sliders.
- Best first – based on the assumption that the user wants to see the most relevant items first, constructed using a relevance score.
- Linear pagination – this option is used when the search data won’t fit on one page, such as items in an eCommerce site. Variations on this pattern include inline paging and progressive loading.
- Autocomplete/autopopulate/autosuggest – will help the user by either filling in a partial query or suggesting or populating terms after the user has typed an initial amount of characters into the search bar.
Choosing a search pattern really depends on your users’ goals and expectations. Performing user research at the beginning of your web design project will help you choose the appropriate design patterns so that you can provide the best possible user experience.
But deciding on your search pattern is only the beginning. You also need to think about making your search pattern as effective as possible, i.e. how to get the user to their end goal as quickly and comfortably as possible. Here are our five best practices to help you implement search effectively in your web prototypes.