I have a couple of websites with a ‘search’ facility front and centre, and several others where I haven’t added one because it’s probably not appropriate. Looking at the usage of the search facility on the sites that have it, I wonder if it should be on more sites.
Why is this? After all, we might have set up our sites with clear, informative navigation which can get visitors to where they need to be in just a couple of clicks. But even where that’s the case, I notice that visitors who use search often type in something that was staring them in the face with a click. They just prefer to use search. And if that’s the case, we should give it to them.
How we add search depends on the type of site – many content management systems come with built-in search that just needs to be activated. Alternatively, Google’s ‘programmable search engine’ is easy to set up and install.
Another reason to think about having site search is that our clear navigation system might not be all that we think it is. On mobile devices, the design might well collapse the entire navigation bar into a little icon in the corner – and there’s no guarantee a visitor will ever click that.