Feb 25 | Ted Adriance
Surfing around the other day, researching a new Macbook, I realized that on each site I visited, I made use of their "auto-suggest" search functionality, an underrated, taken-for-granted tool. This little tool could make or break a deal when it comes down to the user experience.
Check out Amazon's "Search Suggestions" tool. Began your quest for a new "mac", but rather check out what Madonna's up to? You're in luck, as "Madonna" returns within your suggested results. While I might not purchase that new Macbook today, I might just break the bank for that $3.25 used copy of Madonna's "You Can Dance". Long story short... I made a purchase that was suggested to me, not the purchase I originally had in mind.
With the presentation of related (or non-related) suggestions, a user has the potential to make one less click towards the three-click rule to find their desired content. Presenting the most relevant information sooner increases the quality of the user experience and decreases the effort it takes to do so.
Looking for fancy?
Check out Apple's design that presents product images and product details within their auto-suggest window.
Looking for practical?
Suggest relevant content related to your user's request. Searching for "Vermont Skiing"? Google suggests "Vermont Ski Packages". Now take this same concept to your website: Does a user begin their search with "Lift Tickets"? Why not suggest "Specials", "Discounts" or even current events within the returned suggestions?
Consider what gains there are to be had with the implement of an auto-suggest search on your site. Could the returned suggestions help users find their desired content that may otherwise be buried in a large list of search results? Could suggestions be "refined" to entice the user with other content from your site that they might not otherwise find?
It worked for me... I didn't get that new Macbook, but wasn't disappointed as I completed my Madonna collection.