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E-Commerce Search Usability

Exploring the customer’s search experience

An original research study by Baymard Institute

After months of user testing and research, the most in-depth usability study on e-commerce search logic and design is ready.

Full access to the Search Usability study include both a 297-page report with 60 actionable guidelines, and a benchmark database with 3,000 UX performance scores and 1,600 implementation examples.

This research-based and pragmatic toolset will help you get the best possible on-site search experience and conversion rate.

“Baymard produces some of the most relevant and actionable user experience research available. They really understand the needs of UX and Product Management professionals, and their deep experience in the eCommerce field allows them to offer sophisticated, nuanced insights.

Report: 60 Research Driven Guidelines on Perfecting E-Commerce Search

This original usability study focuses on how users search on e-commerce websites. A group of users age 21-56 were recruited to test 19 leading e-commerce sites across 8 different verticals. Despite testing multi-million dollar sites, more than 700 search-specific usability issues arose during testing. All these issues have been analyzed and distilled into 60 guidelines on search usability.

From this research study you’ll learn exactly what users expect as they perform searches on e-commerce sites, what typically goes wrong in the process, why it goes wrong, and exactly what changes to make to avoid these issues. In short: how to design a high-performing search experience for your users. After all, if users can’t find what they are searching for, they can’t buy it from you.

While many of the 60 guidelines will be on search logic, more than half of the guidelines are simple design and interaction changes for the search field, autocomplete functionality, and the search results page, as these elements proved to have just as crucial an impact on the user’s ability to find what they were looking for.


What you’ll get in the Homepage & Category report

60 research-based design guidelines divided into 6 categories.

69 user quotes illustrating how users think when searching on e-commerce sites.

629 images from the test sessions for detailed insights on search issues and solutions.

11 case studies of production sites illustrating what works and what doesn’t.

297 print-optimized pages exploring the user’s search experience.

“I can not tell you how much help your benchmark studies have been for our company, e-commerce and UX teams. We have used and continue to use these reports for baseline benchmarks as we build test protocols or eye tracking scripts etc in lab.

Slide through the report


Table of contents

  1. Introduction 10 pages
  2. Guideline categories:
    1. Query Types 50 pages 12 different types of search queries that users make on e-commerce sites, all vital for your search engine to support
    2. Search Form & Logic 42 pages 10 guidelines on the design and behavior of the search field itself, query persistence, search scope selection, etc.
    3. Autocomplete 24 pages 7 guidelines on how autocomplete should be designed, the types of suggestions it should make, keyboard behavior, etc.
    4. Results Logic & Guidance 33 pages 8 guidelines on how to guide users toward better paths, including suggesting new queries, scopes, ‘No results’ pages, etc.
    5. Results Layout 48 pages 8 guidelines on the layout and features of the search results page, such as dynamic list layouts, results information, search snippets, and pagination
    6. Results Filtering & Sorting 68 pages 15 guidelines on filtering and sorting of search results, including essential filtering types, faceted search, truncation, filter naming, dynamic sorting, etc.
    7. Case Studies 11 reviews Including Walmart, Build.com, Etsy, Rakuten, Nordstrom, Sears, and Home Depot
  3. Checklist for all 60 guidelines 5 pages
  4. Methodology, Authors, etc. 6 pages

“The Baymard reports have proven to be an invaluable resource for us. Comprehensive, pragmatic and actionable. We have redesigned our checkout process and made changes to our category pages based on usability guidelines in the reports.

Benchmark: Is Your Search Experience Better than Sears’ or Amazon’s?

Based on the findings from the research study we’ve benchmarked the search engine and interfaces of the top 50 grossing e-commerce sites in the US. This provides you with a comprehensive benchmark database with 191 pages reviewed, 1,100+ screenshots, and 1,600+ examples of the 60 search usability guidelines.

The benchmark database is fully integrated with the report and comes bundled as part of the purchase, providing you with 50 case studies from the top e-commerce sites, acting as examples and inspiration on how to implement each of the 60 guidelines in the report.

Furthermore the benchmark database provides a tool for you to review your own site (or your clients’) and compare it directly against the top e-commerce sites.


What You’ll Get in the Homepage & Category Benchmark

Full unrestricted access to the benchmark database with on-site search usability reviews of 50 top grossing e-commerce sites.

240 page designs for systematic design inspiration on a particular page type (Search Field, Search Auto-Complete, etc).

An interactive review tool to rate your own on-site search performance and see how it stacks up to the competition.

3,000 UX performance scores providing a detailed breakdown of e-commerce search strengths, weaknesses, and common mistakes.

1,600+ best- and worst practice examples, illustrating how to implement the 60 search usability guidelines.

“Excellent tool – looking forward to using it with our other sites and prototypes as they’re developed.

Compared to other industry reports

eConsultancy E-Commerce Best Practice Baymard Institute E-Commerce Search Usability Forrester Site Search Technology
Pages: 99 pages 297 pages 17 pages
Guidelines: - 60 guidelines 13 takeaways
Source: Author’s thoughts User testing Comparative study
Benchmark: No Yes, 50 sites reviewed No
Review tool: No Yes, interactive review tool No
Price: $695 $150 $2,495
Refund: No Yes, 14 days full refund Yes, 1 day refund

“These reports are fabulous. The content is exactly what our team has been looking for, and so much more! Extremely helpful, thank you!

Get your report and benchmark now

Get instant access to the usability report and benchmark database for $150, and start improving your e-commerce search experience today at just $2.5 per actionable guideline.

Refund policy: We stand by our research and offer you a full 14 days “no questions asked” refund. If you’re not satisfied, simply e-mail us at christian@baymard.com for a full refund.

Report details

  • Title: E-Commerce Search Usability
  • Authors: Jamie Appleseed, Christian Holst
  • ISBN: 978-87-994365-4-5
  • Published: May 2014
  • Delivery: Instant PDF-download (DRM-free), 78mb
  • Content: 297 pages, 60 guidelines

Benchmark details

The benchmark database has four components:

  • Review: Interactive checklist for reviewing your own sites
  • Guidelines: 60 usability guidelines with examples from the 50 benchmarked sites
  • Site reviews: Case studies of the top 50 grossing e-commerce sites
  • Page types: Navigate search engine designs by type of page

Report license

The report and Baymard Pro account are intended for internal use - for you and your team.

You and your team are allowed to both print and digitally distribute the report to employees within your own organization (i.e. within the same legal entity), as long as it is not accessible to anyone outside it.

We trust our customers, so all reports we sell are unrestricted – this means that no DRM or other restrictive technologies are used.

Authors

Research is conducted and published by Baymard Institute, and written by its two founders:

  • Christian Holst – User experience engineer with a master's degree from the Technical University of Denmark. He has worked with designing user experiences in both the hearing aid and the credit card industry before co-founding Baymard Institute 2009.
  • Jamie Appleseed – Has a decade's worth of work experience designing and coding websites, with a focus on user experience. He has worked as lead developer on numerous web projects at web agency Spoiled Milk before co-founding Baymard Institute in 2009.

Baymard Institute’s research is used by:

“Baymard have been a great resource in helping us improve the customer experience. We are continually applying these best practices to our sites.

“Intelligent, consumer-focused insights that are clear and actionable. The team in the room really loved the way the Baymard Institute highlighted the optimizations in the various user experience elements (copy, layout, design, calls-to-action…), from the perspective of consumer struggles. Baymard’s Usability research really compliments our other existing research tools.

“Thank you. This was an excellent piece of work: professional, thorough, and actionable for the team. We're very happy with the work Baymard has done for us so far, and I hope we'll have the chance to work together again on future projects.

“E-Commerce Search Usability is an essential industry report for anybody in the e-commerce business. This must-read analysis contains many valuable insights summarized by an easy to handle checklist.

“Thank you for all the value delivered ahead of our new fiscal years. Your insights not only provided a definitive foundation for our UX roadmap but completely sold our executive team on the value of expert usability insights. Your service paid for itself in a matter of days and ensured all critical gaps will be filled ahead of us running the audit again next year.

‘EasyAsk Helps Oya Costumes Convert Shoppers Into Buyers During Halloween Season’ October 15, 2014

“A recent e-commerce search usability benchmark study by the Baymard Institute [1] showed that 54% of the top 50 U.S. e-commerce sites did not support "thematic searches" (searches around themes or concepts) and 50% did not support "relational searches" (searches using terms that are related to the items).

“Baymard produces some of the most relevant and actionable user experience research available. They really understand the needs of UX and Product Management professionals, and their deep experience in the eCommerce field allows them to offer sophisticated, nuanced insights.

“I have purchased the e-commerce search usability report and it's great. We use it as a benchmark for search best practices.

“Excellent tool – looking forward to using it with our other sites and prototypes as they’re developed.

“The Baymard reports have proven to be an invaluable resource for us. Comprehensive, pragmatic and actionable. We have redesigned our checkout process and made changes to our category pages based on usability guidelines in the reports.

@maxxon15

“I'm always blown away by Baymard's research! Deconstructing E-Commerce Search: 12 Query Types http://t.co/Ya4qIQFC7O via @Baymard”

“It is immensely valuable having a thorough, independent study to help validate my work and in particular, help facilitate buy-off from stakeholders. Baymard has quickly become one of my most trusted resources for the UX/UI field.

@rwldesign

“Grab your espresso, sit with your dog, and read an excellent, in-depth #ux report on e-commerce search: http://t.co/mM3eGrowdv via @Baymard”

“Thanks for everything. The audit was extremely useful, I think we have gained valuable insight.

“I have found the M-Commerce and E-Commerce reports very useful, thank you!

“I can not tell you how much help your benchmark studies have been for our company, e-commerce and UX teams. We have used and continue to use these reports for baseline benchmarks as we build test protocols or eye tracking scripts etc in lab.

“These reports are fabulous. The content is exactly what our team has been looking for, and so much more! Extremely helpful, thank you!

“Many thanks for presenting earlier. I have caught up with the teams and they all found your audit report really useful and are on board with the suggestions.

“Given the tricky science of conversion rate optimization, it is great to know that you are dealing with professionals whose advice is based on solid research. It was a pleasure collaborating with the Baymard team.

“Wow, this is great! Just reviewed it with the team. It's a huge help and we're excited to fix these issues.

“The walkthrough today was great. The report was very, very well done and loaded with great opportunities for us to improve our business. I wanted to again express my appreciation for working with us on such a condensed time frame last month. You and your team have been amazing partners to us and we very much appreciate the work, expertise and partnership.

“This is very, very useful! Let me check what we can do to improve the usability in the Smashing Shop.

“I really like the work Baymard Institute does around usability. Their articles often get my Ecom gears turning.

“We like what we are reviewing from the audit - great analysis and feedback.

“We found the audits extremely helpful and validated a number of changes we have been wanting to make or are in the process of making, so thank again for all the great insights.

“This was indeed very helpful guidance and a very well-documented roadmap for us to fix, validate, organize, collectively understand and continually improve our ecommerce foundation. The videos really are an added plus for those who could not make the live presentation and for our continual review between cross functions.

“We have worked with a number of third party companies before on various projects/audits, and I can certainly say that working with Baymard was not only a pleasure; but you delivered on time; to the level of depth we wanted; addressing important issues; and answering all our questions; and you did all this for a great price. A big THANK YOU on behalf of N11.

@ecomchat

“Big recommendation from @waligorski: I REALLY recommend the BI report. http://t.co/xw6LXkm5iP - best 150$ spent. (cc @baymard) #ecomchat”

“Baymard’s real-user research is invaluable for ecommerce marketers. It leaves no stone unturned, and with the guideline checklists provided, you’ll be well equipped to optimize your mobile presence.

@digital_darts

“The Baymard Institute have some seriously good reports on ecommerce usability, design, and best practices: http://t.co/cuxO3VwiVe”

“I love the information that you guys provide and have bought a couple of reports. Love them.

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