5 Best Practices for Search Results UI

Posted on April 1, 2024 | Updated on June 11, 2024

If you own a website, you know the importance of having a search function on your web pages. When visitors come to a website, they may use a query to search for something specific. As such, the system responds to the request with a page of results. The search results page is a key part of UI design, providing a user experience that caters to their information needs. To ensure the search result pages in your projects are working as they should, you must follow the best practices in UI design.

What Is Search Results UI?

Search result UI is how a website shows you the information you’re looking for after you type a query into the search box. It acts as a guide for users to find what they need. When looking for something — like “books for kids” — the search results UI lists all the products or articles related to your search. 

It’s organized so you can easily see the most important and relevant information first. The UI should be designed to be easy to read and use so you can find what you need without getting lost or confused. It’s an essential part of any website that aims to help its users find information fast and efficiently.

The Basic Principles of Search Results UI

The main purpose of a search results page is to give the users what they’re looking for, but there’s much more to it when you mix UI design. To make the search more functional and convenient for users, the UI should provide various filters and settings that include the following principles.

Control Features

These are the functions that let users manage and refine their search results. It’s for more advanced search by enabling users to set filters so they can narrow their results. Typically, this involves filtering by type, date and category. It can also let you arrange outcomes by relevance, popularity and newest first. Control features help users get more specific results for a better search experience.

Input Features

Input features in search results UI allow users to type in or choose their search queries. It provides an auto-suggestion feature, where you type your questions or keywords, and relevant words appear as you type. Sometimes, dropdown menus or checkboxes will show up to refine your search. These features make searching easy and precise, helping users find their needs.

Informational Features

This feature is all about showing users the right details about their search. This includes things like titles, descriptions and images for each search result. They help users understand what each outcome should be about, supporting rephrasing or adding an autocorrection. 

Personalization Features

This search result UI is about tailoring the experience to each user’s needs based on their previous searches, location and what they’ve clicked on. For example, if you often scour a site for recipes, the search engine may suggest cooking-related recipes. This makes the search more relevant and useful for each user. By incorporating personalization into your design process, you can ensure your site remains a top contender among the competition.

Types of Search Results UI

Designers can use many different search results UI to enhance users’ experience. By keeping the different types in mind, you can ensure site visitors are finding what they’re looking for:

  • Hint text: Light-text suggestions in the search box guide users on potential search queries.
  • Intuitive filters: Allows users to refine search results by criteria such as date, type or price.
  • Results stats: Information displayed above search results, indicating the number of results found, adding context to the search.
  • Predictive query and auto-complete: As users type, the system predicts and shows possible search queries, speeding up the process.
  • Trending search: Shows popular queries near the search box, informing users about widely searched topics.
  • Alternative suggestions for no results: When searches yield no results, this feature offers alternative queries to help users continue their search effectively.

Best Practices for Designing Search Results UI

Designers and website creators can ensure they get search results UI right by following the best practices in creating them. 

1. Be Prepared for Typos

Internet users tend to make typing mistakes, which can skew their results. Consider implementing a smart algorithm that recognizes common misspellings. That way, it suggests the correct spelling or shows results for the intended query. Doing so ensures users find what they want, even when making a typo.

Another way to handle this is by offering “Did you mean” suggestions. This gently corrects the typo without interrupting the search process, keeping the user engaged with your platform by guiding them to the desired outcomes.

2. Minimize the Number of Clicks

This best practice aims to provide users with what they’re looking for in the fewest clicks possible to guarantee they stay engaged. If users are clicking on a results page that leads to a product’s page and must do more to see more information, it becomes a tedious process. 

Ensure you keep it minimal by providing all the information upfront, including key details, pricing and ratings. Unless you are designing for a more detailed user journey, it’s always better to lessen users’ efforts. Additionally, incorporating features like dropdown menus for filters within the search results page can greatly reduce the number of clicks needed to refine a search. 

3. Place It In a Zone of Highest Visibility

The most prominent and easily accessible area on a webpage is typically the top center or top right corner. This is where users naturally look first when they want to search. By positioning the search bar in these high-visibility areas, you ensure users can find what they need more quickly. It also shows users that search is a key feature of your site, encouraging them to use it more. Optimizing visibility in this way instills convenience and improves the overall functionality.

4. Provide the Most Relevant Results

When a site visitor is looking for a specific item, the algorithm should prioritize results based on how closely they match the user’s query. Therefore, it should consider keyword relevance, content freshness and user engagement metrics. This means the most fitting results should appear at the top. When your site consistently delivers highly relevant results, users are more likely to find what they want, improving their satisfaction.

5. Gather Customer Feedback

Seeking input from users about their search experience is crucial for making improvements. Use surveys, feedback forms or usability tests to understand what challenges your users are facing or what they prefer. In turn, you can make more precise enhancements to the search interface to ensure it remains user-friendly. Practice this by tweaking algorithms, adjusting layouts or adding new features, and asking users for their opinions. This shows the users you value their feedback, which is key to building positive relationships on your platform. 

Design Search Results UI That Meets User’s Needs

The user experience is a key aspect to keep in mind. When designing search results UI, always aim for simplicity, efficiency and relevance. Above all, listen to your users — their feedback is crucial for creating an intuitive search experience. By prioritizing these elements, you’ll create a search UI that users rely on and trust.

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About The Author

Cooper Adwin is the Assistant Editor of Designerly Magazine. With several years of experience as a social media manager for a design company, Cooper particularly enjoys focusing on social and design news and topics that help brands create a seamless social media presence. Outside of Designerly, you can find Cooper playing D&D with friends or curled up with his cat and a good book.

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