Must Haves of a Modern Search Experience in Mobile and Web Design

February 11, 2021
Must Haves of a Modern Search Experience in Mobile and Web Design

Search experiences seem blatantly simple to develop but are hardly so in reality. A brilliant search experience can improve UX, be it websites or even mobile apps. It’s aforethought when it comes to web development and app development. Web developers need to focus on technical aspects, a variety of functionalities and UX concerns when it comes to designing a seamless search experience.

Different Kind of Searches

Sometimes, in a quest to make a user’s search experience simple, app developers end up merging various fields and filters. In such circumstances, the end-user fails to find what they are looking for on a website or an app. All in all, search results can be of two types, the kind which features a list of objects on the result page and another one which offers a list of results in auto-complete.

In websites or apps that feature the same type of options on the result page, for example, all jeans or all tourist spots, it is easier to understand the result in terms of data segregation and design. However, in projects where there are different types of search results on the final page, for example, on the Google homepage, it can be easy to help an end-user intuitively solve their query.

When it comes to auto-complete searches, web developers need to take a call whether their results will show filters, results or both. They also need to make a distinction between both.

Dealing with Filters and Free Text

Web and app developers need to focus on search intent and their result expectations before deciding how to build the search experience. They need to build a combination of free text inputs and filters. The data structure is the backbone of any search experience. Most commonly, there is a clear line of distinction between filters and free text. Filters are predetermined options that can help users refine the search experience.

Vying for Search

Ranking results in relevant order is often the most complex aspect of search experiences. Although the process is continuously changing with data evolution, sometimes displaying results sans any ranking is useful for the business and is easier to develop. Listing search results in alphabetical order or according to most recent searches are befitting options during search integration.

However, in the case of multiple filters, the relevance factor also comes into play. In cases where ranking and relevance factors matter in searches, search indexing services should be leveraged because building custom search login algorithms are not economically viable for most projects.

Search Indexing with 3rd Party Players

Designing modern search experiences can be economically draining and time-consuming.  Developing search algorithms for modern search experiences is not easy if anything. Hosted search indexes like ElasticSearch and Algolia help cut short on development time and expense when search experiences are in question.

These integrations offer amiable search logic capabilities, excellence in performance, and relevant results ranking. These hosted services facilitate the addition of new fields to the search query and update the structure of results produced. With 3rd party services, even a complicated search run on its own server against a search index.

Special Search Scenarios

When it comes to designing search experiences for web and apps, there are multiple considerations that software developers must keep in mind. Some factors should be considered foremost as they matter when it comes to the search structure and functions. Namely:


For example, filter application during the search brings forth results of those filters. Or should the result display match any of the given criteria? Most commonly, when a user applies a filter, the expectation is that the result matches all the filters applied.

In some peculiar kind of searches, however, it is obvious that the user wants search results displayed in the context of ‘or.’ Adding some kind of and/or toggle during the search helps users specify how they want their filters to be applied.

Zero Results

No businesses want to display ‘zero results found’ to their users. Modern search experiences are curated to eliminate such scenarios. However, in other cases like reservations, hotel bookings, real estate, it’s a desirable option that can guide a user towards a better outcome.

Partial matching makes it easier in cases where users can’t decide which filter to choose. For example, in free text searches. Search experiences which give successful results in spite of misspelt words, skipped phrases also enhance the UX.

Probable Results

‘You Might be Interested in..’ feature presents better outcome when compared to partial matching as it clarifies how no results were found but gives users some options about how the filters can be better adjusted. It indicates to the user which filters they must give up on, in a simple way.

In the End

Although this is not an exhaustive list of search scenarios that may present themselves during website or app searches, we have tried to cover the most complex ones in this article. Software developers must meet numerous design considerations that come related to the searches.

All in all, there is no single best way to create a search experience that lives up the expectations of modern users. You can follow patterns that other businesses do, take inspiration from ideas shared above or design something novel altogether. The excellence of a  search experience also varies according to a user’s goals and search intent.

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