How to Design Effective Search in User Interfaces

26 Aug · 6 min read

How to Design Effective Search in User Interfaces

Internal search is not required if you have a single-page website if your app or website is short and not densely packed with material. For a corporate or portfolio website showcasing important information and services, well-thought-out navigation will suffice.

Designers may believe that search is the finest and only interactive feature worthy of the user’s attention. That is a tremendous error. Although many users attempt to get closer to their goal through search, some may encounter difficulties with search interactions. For example, they may not know a language well enough to form the correct query, it may be inconvenient for them to type something in, or they simply dislike thinking about textual queries and would prefer to follow the pre-existing navigation and cues rather than the cognitive load of communicating with the system via search.

Best Practices To Design A Good Search Experience

A search box combines an input area and a submit button. One can believe that the search box does not require design because it consists of only two simple parts. However, because the search box is a commonly utilized design feature on content-heavy websites, its usability is crucial. Following are some best practices by which you can make the design for the search better.


The location of the search graphic control in the interface is one of the important design problems. The search field is frequently found in a website's header, which is a good choice as the header is the zone of the highest visibility for any website, so putting a search field there allows users to quickly get moved to the pages people need without roaming through the website and browsing.

For example, large e-commerce websites are frequently visited by users who have a certain aim, a specific item they are looking for - if they can't discover it quickly and conveniently, the danger is significant that they will leave, diminishing the resource's profitability. Furthermore, the strength of habit and mental models should be considered: because many websites have search in their headers, users are accustomed to looking for it there when they need it.

Hiding the search box below the fold (the portion of the page viewable only after scrolling down) or in the footer increases the likelihood that most people will not notice it at all. Using a search button in both the header and footer, on the other hand, can be useful, especially if the website does not utilize a sticky header. In this situation, users will not need to return to the search bar after scrolling down to the footer.

Search Field Inputs

The designers help consumers in making the most of their search after they have launched it. Autocomplete may be a valuable feature for assisting consumers in improving their search phrases. But, like with starting a search, there's more to autocomplete than meets the eye. There are three sorts of autocomplete suggestions: frequent terms, keywords from search history, and scoped searches. When you use filters (or scopes) in the first search, you may limit the results to a certain portion of the site.

According to research, individuals misinterpret scoped searches. They seldom notice when results are pre-filtered to a certain category, so if they don't find what they're looking for, they believe it's not there. According to a Nielsen Norman Group study, "users are more likely to adjust the search scope in retrospect than during their first search effort," hence scoping and filtering should be delayed. However, autocomplete should incorporate recommended keywords and search history to assist users toward better search phrases that are more likely to locate what they are looking for.

Autocomplete recommendations should utilize visual cues to separate themselves wherever possible. For example, search history recommendations can be shown with an icon or text, and strong typefaces can bring emphasis to the distinctions between the proposed terms.

Search Results Of User’s Input

The search results page should display the results of the user's search while also allowing them to readily refine their search as needed. One method to make this easier is to place a search bar at the top of the results page with the users' search keywords in it. This not only informs consumers of their current search but also makes it simple to start a new one.

The moment has come for scopes and filters to shine. Filters at this level provide consumers with the control they need to locate exactly what they are looking for. Search filters or a filter icon should be displayed, and the filters should be relevant to the demands of the consumers. When applied filters are selected, they should always be visible and easy to cancel or update. We will discuss this in the next portion in detail.

When it comes to mobile search, it's extremely vital to pay attention to the input method for each search. As with every time, users submit data on a mobile device, selecting the best appropriate input control for each item is critical. This procedure will be as easy as feasible if you use sliders for pricing ranges, toggles for two mutually exclusive alternatives, and check boxes for 'Select all that apply options. Pre-filling whatever information you can, such as location, can save consumers time and hassle.

Filters to Tune Search

In the event of a website with a high content density (think Amazon with thousands of goods), even a well-crafted search query may be insufficient since it returns too many possibilities in search results. In this situation, filters can help to support the interaction flow and allow users to fine-tune their search: for example, on an e-commerce site, filters can limit search results based on price range, specific brands, product attributes, and so on.

Another alternative is to include more adjustments right in the search area. For example, Amazon's search field makes use of a built-in dropdown menu of main product categories, allowing you to begin searching inside a certain sector directly from the search.

Recognizable Icon for Search

The search box can be displayed in a variety of ways, from the framed tab to the interactive input line, or even as a minimalist clickable icon, in terms of interface design. In the great majority of situations, the search box is denoted by a magnifying glass symbol. Because this sign is well recognized by a wide range of users, it is useful for establishing straightforward navigation and is easily visible while people scan the webpage.

Experiments with this icon can harm the layout's interactions and usability, thus if different symbolic pictures are used, they should be well examined. However, if you don't want to draw visitors' focus away from the search feature, alternative design choices may work.

Final Thoughts

As a result, internal search is a critical component in providing a positive user experience to website visitors or app users. Make it intuitive, leverage the power of habit, consider the suggestions above to improve your user interface's search experience, and try for a healthy balance between search and all other navigation. Also, don't forget to examine the internal search results: they will reveal what your resource's users require and seek.

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