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5 Tips For Designing A Site Search Form


3rd December 2019

Search is critical to the modern web – the larger it has become, the more essential search engines like Google and Bing have made themselves to users.

 

The same is true for individual sites: the more content a particular website boasts, the more important it becomes that its users can find the content they need quickly and easily. This means great search functionality.

 

Imagine a brochure site with a lot of copy, or an ecommerce site with a lot of products. How does a user find what they need with a minimum fuss, rather than through maximum clicking? Internet users are impatient – they have come to expect ease.

 

The harder it is to find content on your site, the higher your bounce rate will be – that’s the metric which measures how quickly users leave you site. The higher your bounce rate, the lower your conversion rate. In other words, search sells.

 

So here are our five top tips for achieving great search – and therefore good returns – on your site:

 

  1. Place The Search Bar Prominently. Putting the search bar where people will expect it to be is the first step to building a good user experience. People tend to look for search bars on the top right of the page. For most sites, this position will suffice, but for sites centered around information and resources, somewhere more prominent might be better. Understand your users, and then meet their needs.

 

  1. Use Familiar Icons. Don’t reinvent the wheel – ease is about familiarity. People are well versed in the magnifying glass icon when it comes to searching for things, so adopt it as your own. Adding a line of text onto the search bar can further help guide people about where and what to search for on your website.

 

  1. Trigger Search On “Click & Enter”. How will the search process be activated? Again use a mechanism that is intuitive, but not restrictive. It’s good practice to enable search triggering by either clicking on ‘Search’ or by pressing ‘ENTER’. While most of us will just press enter after typing, some of us may be used clicking a button. Offer both options.

 

  1. Include A Search Bar On Your Results Page. Sometimes, a search doesn’t stop just after the first attempt. Refining your results is all part of the search process – after all, the results shown may not be what the user is looking for in the first instance, or they want to look for something else. Adding a search bar to the results page makes getting granular much more convenient.

 

  1. Keep The Slugs. The “slug” is the alphanumeric identity assigned to a given page in your site architecture – for example, about-us or our-services. Displaying the “slug” in search results helps users better understand your site structure overall, and more importantly helps them make decisions about which results are most appropriate for their needs. If your search solution doesn’t do this by default, consider turning it on – orienting your users helps them find content.

 

And that’s it: add search functionality, and design it in such a way that it’s easy to access and even easier to use. Your site’s visitors will reward you.

 

Contact Image Plus for Web Design & Development

If you need web design or development, then speak to our friendly experts. Our web developers are based in Coventry, Warwickshire and are always ready to help. Please feel free to contact us and speak to one of our website design specialists.

Contact us on 024 7683 4780 or send us an email at info@image-plus.co.uk.

blog

Decision Fatigue and How It Affects Conversions


6th November 2019

We all have our limits. When it comes to making choices, we can reach them surprisingly quickly.

Each of us makes countless decisions every day, often subconsciously. Online, the choices facing us are innumerable: which sites to visit, which buttons to click, which pages to read, which forms to submit. Every single site we browse demands we make decisions – and often many of them.

This can result very quickly in what designers call ‘decision fatigue’. Simply put, this is the feeling in a user that they are having to make too many choices to justify the benefit they are deriving from engaging with a site. Once decision fatigue sets in, they are likely simply to move on.

In other words, decision fatigue affects conversion rates. It increases your ‘bounce rate’ – the number of people leaving your site too quickly – and it results in users disengaging from your onboarding process before it’s complete. This means that you don’t get their contact details, or don’t make a sale.

The good news is that there are choices you can make to reduce the likelihood that your site will cause decision fatigue in its users. There are a set of pretty easy design techniques available that make sites much easier to use – and ensures that far few active decisions are required on the part of those who visit it.

 

  1. Declutter The Navigation Menu. Decision fatigue occurs when your consumer is put in the position of choosing from an abundance of options. Aim for your visitors to quickly explore your site, find exactly what they need, and convert. When it comes to a website, a cluttered navigation menu can harm your conversion rates. Make finding content on your site simple.

 

  1. Reduce Your Promotions. Offers and promotions are excellent for enticing new customers and returning customers. However, too many can distract your converting customers. Including one or two promotions on a page is ideal so that you hold the customer’s attention. Any more and your users can begin to feel confused – even lost.

 

  1. Prioritise Content. One of the essential parts of a website is content marketing. If you offer up too much content at the same time, then customers won’t take the time to digest your information. Content should be prioritised, with the most recent or more important first or the most important information first. Use design to order your content, so that it is clear to users what they need to read.

 

  1. Include Filters and Sort Functionality. On websites with many pages or products, it’s important to offer a filter or sort feature, so that users can quickly search for what they need. Having to wade through a long list of items makes a site not just inconvenient but often unusable for users. You’ll achieve higher conversion rates if your customers can find what they want straight away.

 

In other words, reducing decision fatigue is about enhancing and streamlining content delivery. Make information and products easier and quicker to find – and the means of doing so as intuitive as possible. That will reduce the choices your users have to make – and increase the likelihood that the choices they do make will be positive for you.

 

Contact Image Plus for Web Design & Development

If you need web design or development, then speak to our friendly experts. Our web developers are based in Coventry, Warwickshire and are always ready to help. Please feel free to contact us and speak to one of our website design specialists.

Contact us on 024 7683 4780 or send us an email at info@image-plus.co.uk.

 

blog

5 Website Navigation Trends of 2018


12th June 2018

It can be easy to ignore the importance of navigation design. The other aspects of websites are so much more obvious and exciting: colours and shapes, fonts and photography. But without good navigation design, your website might look great but be way too frustrating to use.

Navigation is, of course, the means by which a user gets from one page to another when using your site. The best websites will have intuitive navigation and menus that make immediate sense. Giving a clear structure to your site, and enabling your users to make their way through it, is the best means of helping your content do its thing.

There are all sorts of methods and techniques to make sense of navigation on behalf of your users – and, as with all elements of design, there are trends to take into account, too. We’re currently seeing five key approaches to menu design that can really help make a site comprehensible to first-time visitor or long-time user alike.

 

Sticky Navigation Bars

Sticky Navigation Bars, for example, keep the navigation menu in a fixed place on each page. This enables users to navigate the site from anywhere on the page – because the navbar follows them as they scroll through content. This is a great way of encouraging users to explore your site without risking them getting lost.

 

Mega Menus

Mega Menus are increasingly popular on websites, perhaps because they are rather different from more common, and therefore a little dreary, drop-down menus. Instead of just flowing downwards along a vertical line, mega menus expand wider, usually containing multiple columns of content. This is particularly useful if your site has a lot of inter-related content.

 

Responsive Sub Navigation Menus

Responsive Sub Navigation Menus are also crucial for sites with lots of pages. Designers will often hide some navigation links on mobile platforms, in order to help the menu fit better on small screens. This design trend retains the space-saving virtues of drop-down menus, but hides them by default behind a “hamburger” icon which, once clicked, expands across the content area.

 

All Capitalisation

All Capitalisation, meanwhile, is a rather more subtle trend but no less powerful. Here, the text of a menu item is displayed in ALL CAPS, offering a text style that feels clear, intuitive and symmetrical. We’re seeing this more and more, and, unlike other uses of all-caps online, it never feels like shouting.

 

Single Page Navigation

Finally, single page navigation is making a lot of the above redundant. Many sites – particularly those with less content to squeeze in – are now simply a single page with anchor points: click a menu item and the page automatically scrolls to the corresponding section. As well as sticky navbars, dot navigation – a series of circular icons located on the left or right side of the screen – is a big thing here, and helps further enhance the natural sleekness of single page sites.

 

So there you have it: navigation is changing, and you need to stay up-to-date if your users are going to stick with you. With luck, this quick review of the top five web navigations trends for 2018 has helped you find your way, too …

 

Contact Image Plus for Web Design & Development

If you need web design or development, then speak to our friendly experts. Our web developers are based in Coventry, Warwickshire and are always ready to help. Please feel free to contact us and speak to one of our website design specialists.

Contact us on 024 7683 4780 or send us an email at info@image-plus.co.uk.

 

blog

The Benefits of “Breadcrumbs”


30th January 2018

Breadcrumbs are more useful than you think. Not only are they an essential ingredient in veggie burgers, Katsu curry and fish fingers … They can help you find your way home.

We all know the story of Hansel and Gretel, who were brave enough to explore the forest … and smart enough to lay breadcrumbs along their path. In this way, they didn’t get lost – useful when you’re running away from the evil inhabitant of a sinister gingerbread house.

In web design, his story has given a name to the tokens we leave throughout a website to enable a visitor to track back through their online journey. Often breadcrumbs appear as nested page names – Home > About > Our Company, for example – which situate a user clearly with the site’s architecture. They can take other forms, however, and always the aim is simple: to help your visitor to not get lost.

This is a good function to include, especially on a site which boasts a large number of pages. Resource-heavy websites are great, but once you’ve clicked one link you’ve clicked them all – and it can be very easy to become unmoored, lost amidst all these pages and unable to find your way ‘Home’ again.

 

Why Use Site Breadcrumbs?

Breadcrumbs – prominent indicators of where you are and how you can get back to where you were – greatly enhance the usability of a site. They make it easy to click on pages but also remain oriented; to find other content quickly, and to go back to content you found interesting once you’re done exploring.

In turn, this reduces the clicks or actions required to return to a given page – and this, too, enhances the user experience of your site. Making your content easy to navigate is a key means of making your site pleasant to use … And that will earn you return visits.

If you’re wondering why users can’t just click the “Back” button, you haven’t yet understood the power of the humble breadcrumb. Breadcrumbs aren’t just about going back: they’re about situating yourself within a site, and understanding how each of its pages relates to the others. You’ve worked hard on structuring your content – so, make that structure clear. The “Back” button alone doesn’t achieve that.

Sites without breadcrumbs don’t get read as much as sites which opt to use them. Being able to find your way home encourages browsers, like Hansel and Gretel, to explore a little deeper; if you don’t help your users to find their way, they’ll stick a little more closely to the ‘top-line’ content – and never make the most of what you’ve built for them.

In fact, sometimes they won’t even read your top-line content: sites without breadcrumbs suffer from higher bounce rates, meaning essentially that their visitors leave those sites much more quickly. Today’s internet users are savvy and impatient – if they can’t find what they want quickly and easily, they’ll go somewhere else. Breadcrumbs encourage them to stay.

In other words, think of breadcrumbs as a wayfinding system. Complex buildings often include coloured corridors and large maps to help visitors find their way around. Hardy fairytale explorers carry loaves of bread. And websites have the benefits of breadcrumbs.

 

Contact Image Plus for Web Design & Development

If you need web design or development, then speak to our friendly experts. Our web developers are based in Coventry, Warwickshire and are always ready to help. Please feel free to contact us and speak to one of our website design specialists.

Contact us on 024 7683 4780 or send us an email at info@image-plus.co.uk.

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