Vol. 05: Search (Including Faceted Search)

3rd Edition

Report PDF cover image

Part of the E-Commerce User Experience Series

You can’t sell a product that your customers can’t find. Your site must accommodate all types of searches and return relevant results for categories, products, and product characteristics. Search is a critical element of building a profitable website. In our recent e-commerce usability study, 83% of users searched on one or more sites.

This 148-page report contains 62 design recommendations based on our usability research. Discussions and 130 screenshot illustrations supplement the findings.

Even though some of the design guidelines are specific to searching for products, many of the guidelines apply to all forms of web searches, including general websites and intranets.


  • Exploiting search to meet customer needs
    • Feeling for breadth or depth of the site's product selection
    • Quickly locate a product category or something specific
    • Fallback option to site navigation
    • Narrow options
    • Return to an item previously located
  • Customer queries
    • Search queries, what people type
    • Query length
    • Within site searches versus web-wide searches
  • Best practices for search on e-commerce websites
    • Placement of search
    • Accommodating different lengths and types of searches
    • Interpreting the query
    • Narrowing options
    • Returning useful results
    • Advanced and scoped searches
    • Presenting search results
    • Sorting results
    • Narrowing product choices
    • Guided navigation versus faceted search

Research Method

The information in these reports is based on two separate rounds of e-commerce studies, including:

  • One-on-one usability testing
  • Diary-based longitudinal study
  • Eyetracking

Representative users tested 206 e-commerce websites. The studies took place in the United States, the United Kingdom, Denmark, and China (Hong Kong).


Research Reports

Training Courses

  • Information Architecture Day 1: Structure Day 1 and Day 2


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Customers who choose an individual license are not authorized to share the report or video with anyone else, or post it to any internal or external file server, website, or intranet. Individual License Terms


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Customers who choose a group license are authorized to post the report or video on internal file servers or intranets and make it available to others within the organization. The group license does not grant permission to make the report/video available to people not employed by your organization, the general public, or to post it to a publicly accessible website or file server. Group License Terms


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Vol. 05: Search (Including Faceted Search)

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Vol. 05: Search (Including Faceted Search)

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