A visitor lands on your website, clicks on the search bar to type in a search term. Within a split second, the search result appears… “Sorry, nothing found.” What a bummer! Most visitors will get disappointed and probably won’t try searching again. Goodbye visitor.
But it doesn’t have to be that way. The “No Search Result” screen is an excellent opportunity to help your visitors find what they are looking for. If you provide the right information, you can even turn the bad user experience around, which ultimately leads to a better website and satisfied visitors.
Let’s dive in.
In his newsletter, Erik D. Kennedy from Learnui.design points out the four most important reasons for a visitor to arrive at the dreaded “No Results” screen.
1. The visitor has made a typing error;
2. The visitor is looking for something that’s not on the website (so certain content is missing);
3. It is not clear to the visitor what to search for;
4. A search filter has (accidentally) been applied.
Let’s see how you can help the visitor in these situations with a few simple changes.
Typos happen a lot during a “quick search”. Visitors may look for the contact page by typing cotact, and get led to a dead end. Fortunately, this is easy to remedy. A modern site search solution corrects spelling errors on the fly, which can be done in two ways:
- The search bar automatically corrects the search term and displays the search results for the corrected search term—in this case, the contact information page.
- The search bar shows that there are no search results, but suggests a correction: did you mean contact? The visitor can correct his search term and find the contact page with one click.
Both solutions, or ideally a combination thereof, proactively help your visitor. And frankly, we believe every search bar should correct spelling mistakes. This is especially true for websites where information accessibility is extra important, such as for governments, healthcare institutions, educational institutions and financial institutions.
2. The visitor is looking for non-existent content
Imagine a visitor on a website of an insurance company, looking for travel insurance for remote workers. The website may have articles on travel insurance, but no content on this specific topic.
When the “No Results” screen pops up, why not ask the visitor to report it? That way, the content managers can add an article about insurance for remote workers.
Good feedback is useful and helps you respond to the information needs of your website visitors, which you may not even know were there in the first place.
However, preventing this from happening is even better. An advanced search solution offers tools to monitor the search queries in your search bar so you can see which search queries fail to produce search results, so adding the right content becomes even easier.
3. The visitor doesn’t know what to look for
Larger organizations such as governments, insurers, banks or healthcare institutions offer a range of complex services. This often leads to complex website with a lot of complex content. It can be challenging for visitors to find the right information, especially when it is not really clear what to search for. Again, the “No Results” screen offers an opportunity to take the visitor by the hand. A simple list of search suggestions or most popular search terms helps to show what the website has to offer, only one click away.
Your search bar supports a filter function, right? If not - and that’s a different topic - your website should offer the ability to filter search results, for a much better user experience.
But in case there is indeed a filter function, it is possible that there are no search results simply because filters have been applied (sometimes even accidentally) to the search query (and your visitors may even miss this due to bad user interface design). Fortunately, this is easily resolved, by graphically emphasizing the applied filters in your design and by mentioning it on the “No Results” screen.
There are four main reasons why visitors get a “No Results” screen while searching for stuff. However, this screen offers a huge opportunity to improve the user experience of your search bar and website in general.
Make sure that spelling mistakes are being corrected, offer the possibility to contact you when content is missing, show search suggestions and most popular search terms, and emphasize the applied filters.
If done right, you’ll lead visitors to the information they were looking for, or at the very least, you learn what’s missing on your website.
If you want to to how you can improve your website's site search, contact us. We are happy to help.