Woman holding magnifying glass in front of her face. Wearing sunglasses and pinstripe suit.

Why do you need to add a search function to your website?

There are many reasons you would want to add a search function to your website. The main and most important one is to create the best possible experience for visitors.

Giving visitors to your website a way to quickly and easily find the information they’re looking for is number one in user-friendly websites.

One of the ways you can do this is with a search function

  1. You can streamline your navigation, you don’t need every single possible option in your menus or navigation,
  2. Increase user interaction, lengthen the time they spend on your site and provide you with valuable data about what users are searching for,
  3. Give users another way to find the information they need, and
  4. Cut down on the number of clicks visitors have to register before finding the information they want.

In almost all cases, adding a search to your site will always be beneficial.

Search and Results UI design
FlyLine Search and Search Result by Moinul Ahsan

How do you add search to your website?

When it comes to adding search to your website, you have some options.

The most common search boxes are scripted in coding languages such as PHP or Perl.

The code is housed on the server, and when information is typed in a box and sent, the server-side engine runs the script and produces the results.

Some search scripts will run a crawl on your entire website each time a search is made by a user.

Other scripts will periodically crawl your site and create a search index, and it is this index that is searched whenever a user inputs a search query.

Both methods have advantages and drawbacks, so consider your needs before deciding.

Advanced search results UI design
Advanced Search by Horia Veselin

Another option for website owners is to utilise a search feature from a third party.

Many internet companies out there will have products where the code can simply be copied and pasted in an appropriate area, and then the search box becomes functional.

Advantages are quick and easy setup, no knowledge of code required, but you may have to sacrifice control over how the search works and in what method the results are displayed.

You can use a service like Google’s Custom Search to build a basic search feature.

Google offers a free feature that offers limited customisation and includes advertisements and also a customisable version that gives you a little bit more control.

You can remove Google branding and ads, but you’ll have to pay a little more money for it each year.

Google Programmable search engine

A search function could improve your website

A search function is a helpful tool for both your visitors and your business, and there are many options out there to suit a wide variety of needs.

Caroline Hagan

Caroline brings over 15 years as a Designer and Developer; featured in .NET magazine, the only woman in the UK accredited for Google Mobile Sites. A business mentor with Enterprise Nation, STEM Ambassador and Google Women Techmaker Ambassador Previous client projects include Blackberry, FIAT, Clark Shoes and Sky.

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