UI Design

How to Design a Complex Search Interface?

September 9, 2022
Credit to Anna Yashina

The search interface is the entry point that offers users access to the content on your website. The user accesses the content through a question and the system replies to the user's request in the form of"search results." A search box is an essential tool for any website that's content-driven and informative. However, it's not an absolute must for all websites. Let's see some of the websites that can benefit from the search functionality, before exploring the steps of designing a complex search interface.

  • Big websites featuring numerous entries (encyclopedias)
  • e-commerce websites.
  • News portals.
  • Booking services

Websites with well-organised user interface design secure a competitive advantage in an increasingly evolving environment. The purpose of the user interface is to make digital interaction convenient: therefore, it should anticipate needs and guarantee ease of use and access, to optimise the user experience.

Before proceeding, let's first look at these few benefits of a well-thought-out user interface design:

Attracting new clients

A well-designed user interface attracts new customers which enhances business, increases sales, and optimises revenue opportunities.

Customer retention

Developing an intuitive search interface to simplify research attracts new clients and makes them desire to proceed with their digital experience. This way, there is a decreased chance of bounce and a bigger conversion rate. Apart from that, a unique user interface promotes customer engagement, which enables the customer to be more loyal to your brand. This is relatively important considering the current digital market has rapid technological upgrades, meaning businesses must invest in customer retention policies.

Reduces customer support costs

Users often express dissatisfaction or difficulties when sifting through the interface. However, customer contact with the support team will be minimal primarily if the interface is user-oriented. Your brand can benefit by decreasing costs in customer support.

Let's now focus on the steps of designing a complex search interface.

Place the search field in a visible and interactive area

The most important aspect when designing a complex search interface is positioning the "search graphic control" in a visible and interactive zone. In web design, for example, the search field should be in the header of the website since this is the zone of the greatest visibility. Placing the search field in this area allows users to hastily get directed to the pages they want without roaming and scrolling down through the web.

Putting the search field in the footer increases the chances of the user not seeing it at all. Nonetheless, using a search control in the header and footer can function well primarily if your website doesn't deploy a sticky header.

Use a clear icon

Your search field must be clear and recognisable. Mostly, the search field is characterised by an icon featuring a magnifying glass. Users often look for this icon when they want to type anything. So if you put any other search icon, users may get lost. The magnifying glass must have fewer details with a large clickable space.

Provide textual prompts

Textual prompts are an excellent way to offer users a clue regarding the interactivity and functionality of a specific interface component. A typical example that everyone acknowledges is the Google search which gives you the options immediately after you start to input your question. This reduces the time needed to fill in the search field and allows the user to begin actual interaction with information on the website.

Provide the options instantly

Ensure the interaction flow is backed by the dropdown menu providing potential options when the user is inputting the query. In the event that your website contains high content intensity, insert filters to aid in tune searching. These filters should support the flow of interaction and let users coordinate their search better.

Make your options intuitive to promote a good user experience. You can also incorporate spell check and typos recognition. Examining and re-typing any character can drive users mad. As such, identifying the users' intent and providing recommendations will be highly appreciated.

Offer advanced search option

If your website will feature high content intensity, consider adding advanced search options to compensate for the multiple layers and manual searching. This will reduce the time someone takes to search for something on your web.

Add voice search

Voice recognition compliments the current technological advancements and it's becoming the go-to option for most apps.

Poor Connectivity

Unfortunately, poor connectivity remains a matter of concern in our improved tech era. So how do you retain a user on the web while the connectivity is low? Well, the least you can do is integrate a progress indicator. This methodology makes users more tolerant. Also, this is the stage where you can showcase your creativity and put conventional ways to indicate the progress rather than using a typical bar.

The other option is showing a skeleton screen to tell users they are nearly there.

That said, let's now look at five don'ts to evade frustration with the search interface.

  • Don't hide the search box or users won't find it.
  • Avoid creating a short search field, otherwise, it won't contain all of the user's queries.
  • Avoid making a small submit button.
  • Avoid over designing the search box.
  • Don't put too much advanced functionality. It should only be available upon request.

Image credit:
Olga Semklo