How to Design Effective Search in User Interfaces?

26 August6 min read
How to Design Effective Search in User Interfaces?

According to 73.1% of web designers, a non-responsive design is the main reason users quit a website. Having an effective search function is an essential feature of a website.

When your app or website is brief and not heavily content-packed, an internal search is unnecessary if it has a single page. However, well-planned navigation will do for a company or portfolio website that highlights vital data and services.

Designers can think that the best and only interactive element deserving of users' attention is search. However, although many users want to search toward their objectives, some may need help with search interactions. 

For instance, they might not be fluent in a language to formulate the proper query, find it difficult to type something in, or find the cognitive load of interacting with the system via search too taxing and prefer to follow the pre-existing navigation and hints.

5 Best Practices For Design A Good Search Experience

A submit button and an input field are combined to form a search box. The search box has two specific components, leading one to conclude that it does not require design. However, the search box is a frequently used design element for websites with a lot of content, so usability is essential

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 vital 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 particular 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. On the other hand, using a search button in both the header and footer can be helpful, mainly 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 the footer.

Search Field Inputs

The designers help consumers make the most of their search after launching it. For example, Autocomplete may be a valuable feature for assisting consumers in improving their search phrases. But, like 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 particular portion of the site.

Individuals misinterpret scoped searches. They seldom notice when results are pre-filtered to a specific category, so if they need help finding 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. In addition, autocomplete should incorporate recommended keywords and search history to assist users with 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 emphasize 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. This informs consumers of their current search and makes it simple to start a new one.

The moment has come for scopes and filters to shine. Filters at this level give consumers the control they need to locate precisely 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. 

Regarding mobile search, it's incredibly 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. In addition, pre-filling whatever information you can, such as location, can save consumers time and hassle.

If 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 uses a built-in dropdown menu of main product categories, allowing you to begin searching inside a particular sector directly from the search.

The search box can be displayed in various ways, from the framed tab to the interactive input line, or even as a minimalist clickable icon, in terms of interface design. However, in most situations, the search box is denoted by a magnifying glass symbol. 

Because a wide range of users well recognizes this sign, it helps establish 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, alternative design choices may work if you want to avoid drawing visitors' focus away from the search feature.

Final Thoughts

Internal search is, therefore, essential to giving website visitors or app users a great user experience. Consider the tips above to enhance the search experience on your user interface, and strive for a good balance between search and all other navigation. 

Remember to look at the internal search results as well; they will show you what the users of your resource need and want.

Read More: Augmented Reality and UX/UI Design: Role, Principles