How To Display Effective Content Search On Mobile Websites
February 5th, 2014 by admin | Type: Standard

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Each day, more and more people are surfing the web using their mobile phones. In fact, the whole USA has 96% mobile signal coverage and soon, that will all be mobile broadband access for all. Three years ago, not everyone has access to cheap data and smart phones but one quick glance at the subway today and you will see that more than 5 out of 7 people are on smart phones, using data.

What does this mean for businesses? This means that it is not enough that you have mobile presence – you must present your content so that every person on the go can easily find what they are looking for in less than 2 minutes. These people are walking down the street on their way to the next meeting, awaiting a cab, lining up for their morning latte or checking the news while on the elevator.

People are multi-tasking today so much that you need to give

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them just 60 seconds, tops, to show them what they are looking for. This is why you should optimize your mobile site or mobile app to make searching easier for your users.

What do people search for?

People search for so many things, such as:

  • Restaurant menus and reservation hotlines
  • Plane tickets
  • Movie schedules
  • Latest news snippets
  • Bank account details
  • Last minute gift items
  • Current traffic situation
  • Latest stock exchange data

And so much more. And they usually search for those while doing something else, too. With such a huge variety of searchable items, how do you make sure that you are giving them the right thing?

When it comes to the world of mobile, making assumptions regarding your user’s behavior pays off since they don’t have time to fine tune the settings to get to what they need right now.

Why make search easy?

If a person cannot find what they are looking for in your site, whether it is the delivery hotline for your meals or the pricelist for your gadgets, they will try to find it somewhere else. That is already lost revenue on your end. If you were able to give them what they want, not only will they continue with the purchase or the transaction, they will also return in the future since you gave them a positive experience.

Quick changes to make searching easier

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Here are some very concrete tips on how you can make searching easier on your mobile site:

  • Make a dropdown list or tabs of the most frequently visited sections of your site. Check your Google Analytics data and include the most frequented sites to the short list. Just like in the image above, The New York Times has a dropdown box for the most popular sections of the newspaper.
  • Include a search bar at the top right section of your site (where it is commonly found).
  • Make your headings stand out – change their color, font size or make them bold. For easier category searching
  • Include cookie crumbs near the top of the screen so that the user knows where he is navigating from
  • Effectively use keywords to tag the RIGHT type of content for easy searching
  • Make your images optimized for web display so that search results with images are quickly loaded onto the page
  • Include a Recommended list at the bottom of each item found or article displayed so that related items, whether by topic, author or by product type, are also shown to the user. This makes them feel that the system “knows” them

Good examples of effective mobile site searching

Creating a searchable mobile website does not just mean shrinking your desktop site into the mobile screen. If you check out the sample screenshot below, you can see that some key elements are changed to make the viewing on mobile easier.

Instead of a long navigational bar, a “settings” or “more” image is placed at the upper right corner of the screen. This makes it easier for searching through a very long list of navigational menu, instead of scrolling horizontally through the page.

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You can also do the Amazon style of search where they have a “Shop by Department” button at the upper left corner of the screen. This predefined category list helps you organize your shopping without having to manually key in keywords (which can be difficult using a virtual keyboard of your smartphone).

Facebook does a good job of letting you search through friends and pages with just one single text bar and then displays first hits immediately so that in case the person you are finding is in the first set of hits, your search is done in less than 5 seconds.

Think about how you can make the lives of your users easier and you can design a search function for your site, which will help them get things done in just seconds.