Why having a search bar on your site, makes all the difference

19 November 2018

In order to build an ideal website, a number of factors are needed to be considered. From the design aspects, the ease of using the website to the navigation, equal importance must be placed on every aspect, but the one that usually gets overlooked is the need to add a search bar.         

A simple quadrilateral that sets everything straight.

A Search bar is a combination of an input field and 'submit' button. One may think that the search bar doesn’t need a design; after all, it’s just two simple elements. However, on content-heavy websites, the search bar is often the most frequently used design element. When users come across relatively complex sites, they will immediately look for a search bar to get to their final destination quickly and painlessly. The design of the search bar and its usability becomes a big deal.

Depending on the size of your website, you may have hundreds or more posts/ pages for people to browse. You may have category links, tag links, best posts, related posts, etc. listed on each of the pages but it only goes so deep.

To enhance the user experience, a search bar plays a huge role in the sense that it allows users to search through your website quickly and easily.

In this article, we’ll see how this element can be improved in order to save the user time in going where they want.

Use a magnifying-glass icon

There are a few universally recognized icons, identified by the users and the magnifying-glass icon is one such icon. Accompanying your search bar with a magnifying-glass icon will clearly indicate the proper function of the bar. 


Tip: Use a schematic icon, the simplest version of the magnifying glass. Fewer graphics speed up recognition.

Display search field prominently

If the search is intended to be an important function for your app/site, it should be displayed prominently, as it can prove to be the fastest route to discovery for users.

Search should not be hidden behind an icon but must be shown upfront as an expanded open text field. Hiding behind an icon may make the search function go unnoticed and add up to the cost of interaction.

Include the search bar on every page

Users should be able to access the search bar no matter where they are on the website. This provides users with access to some of your well-hidden content that would have taken much longer to locate by clicking through countless pages. If there are problems finding what they need using the navigation on your site, they can always look up on the search bar. That way, the chances of drop-outs reduce significantly. 



Place the search bar where users expect to find it

Place your search bar where it’s most likely to be found. As per the common F-shaped scanning pattern, the most suitable placement would be the top left or top right of your webpage. Any other position would make it difficult for users to locate the search bar resulting in not using it at all.


When designing a search bar, one must make sure that it complements the overall design of the website, yet stand out when it needs to be found.

Plenty of contrast must be used to make your search bar stand out if it’s surrounded by too many elements on the page.

Use the auto-suggestion mechanism

Auto-suggestion is an effective search mechanism that guides users in reformulating queries by predicting it based on the characters entered. This mechanism is more about helping users construct their search query rather than just speeding up the process. It has been observed that users typically perform very poorly in query formulation. Auto-suggestions help users articulate better queries.


Make it clear what users can search for

To further ease out the search process, a sample search can be included in the input field. Even after providing the search bar, users may be lost as to the proper usage of the bar. This can be eliminated by providing a sample query in the bar. It is also a great idea to use hint text in the input field. 


search bar


Tip: Try limiting your hint to just a couple of words or else you might actually end up causing more cognitive load.

Search is a crucial activity and a highly significant element of building a website. It should not be treated as an afterthought but must be considered as a prerequisite while the site is being built. Implementing even minor changes in your input field, adjusting its size or indicating what goes into the field, can significantly improve the usability and overall user experience.

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