Search has been an integral part of most of the computer operations. Even companies whose core feature is not search either build or adopt state of the art search engine to provide the best user experience. In this blog post, I will try to reason out the look, feel and functionality of a search engine and reason why some are more successful than others.
Given the advancement in technology and the revolution in browsers, the address bar can be used as a great search engine. Let us assume a more conventional path where a user goes on to “www.examplesearch.com”
Once a user goes to “www.examplesearch.com”, the intent of the user is clear : the user wants to search for something. Placing a prominent search bar in the page is very critical since it serves the basic intent of the user visiting the page. So now that we need a prominent search bar, where do we place the search bar?
- Search bar at top of the page: Placing a search bar at top of the page laves a lot of room for recommendations drop down but might cause the following 2 issues:
a. The top of the page gets very cluttered and leaves a lot of real estate in the page free. If the name of the company and the branding is at the center then the focus shifts from the intent of the user (search) to the company/ branding.
b. Another potential issue is that the user can mistype in the address bar of the web browser instead of the search bar. If address bar does not have search capabilities or if the browser is set to another default search engine, the user experience is is lost.
2. Search bar at bottom of the page: Placing a search bar at bottom of the page takes the place away for the drop down recommendation. Further the footer generally contains links to the subsequent pages and might make the appearance very cluttered.
3. Search bar at middle of the page: Placing a search bar at the middle of the page provides the right mix of branding and capturing the main intent of the user. So perhaps placing the search bar in the middle of the page to start with is a good idea.
Now, exploring the top right corner of the page, the sign-in/sign-out option has conventionally been on the top-right corner and might be the best fit place for the account options given the traditional user preferences. Search is integrated with many other products and if search is the flagship default page of the company, providing links to other products on the search page can help create product awareness and also provide an integrated user experience.
The four squares at the top right corner when clicked, expands to provide links to a list of other products that belong to the company. This may not be as intuitive as it Pseudo violates Don Norman’s design principles. The consistency factor is missing out since all the other aspects are visible and spelt out while the rectangle boxes constitute a shape and do not provide a verbal description.
The cicl at the top right corner can be termed as “account button” and provides functionality to sign in, sign out and modify account setting which needs to be largely consistent across the products delivered by the same company. If the user has a profile picture, then the profile picture can be fit inside the circle to visually illustrate that some details about the user will be obtained upon clicking on it.
Now, with digitalization on the increase, image search can be a deal breaker. While image search is already prevalent, it may be a good idea to provide link to image search for the user. in the landing page itself. If the user does not obtain the necessary result through rudimentary web search and feels that image search is a better option then an option to image search would be pivotal.
There can be a link to image search as in the figure shown on the left or it can be placed in the top right corner as shown on the right.The “image search” phrase below the search bar can be replaced by a aesthetic icon or creative text informing the user to go to image search if necessary. On the other hand, image search can also be placed on the right hand top corner proving a link to to the image search page. Perhaps A/B testing could be done to determine which of these is a better option. While the option on the left makes it easily accessible it might prompt the user to use image search when it is not necessary. The user may not notice the option on the top right corner and may go on with traditional search even if image search is a better option if the image search link is placed as shown in the figure on the right.