Site Search Best Practice: Make the Search Box Bigger

Search drives almost everything online. While lots of us bookmark pages or click on links that take us from one website to another, typing keywords into a search engine and hitting ‘Return’ is how most web users, most of the time, try to find what we’re looking for.

When using search on a specific website (versus a search engine), we want an input box that allows us to see most, if not all, of the words we type in for our search. Yet you’ve probably had the experience of typing search terms into a too-small input box. Maybe the box is too short, so the text shows up looking tiny. Or just as frustrating, your query runs too long and scrolls out of sight.

User-experience gurus Nielsen Norman Group have the data to prove that these small search boxes are not just your imagination: “The average search box is 18-characters wide, [and] 27% of queries were too long to fit into it.”

Better to design a search-input box — or really, any kind of box where the user types in text — to be too wide than too short. And on the taller side, as well, so that there’s some white space around the words.

Don’t box in your users; give them the space they need to quickly review and revise their query before they submit it.

Categories: Design and Information Architecture | Tags: , , , , , | Bookmark the permalink.

About Elaine Heinzman

At heart, Elaine's role is that of professional storyteller. She helps identify the most important information and how best to present it for clients and Matrix Group alike. She entered journalism at age 12 with her middle-school paper, earned a double-major degree in print journalism and American studies from the University of Miami, spent years in the magazine industry, and was a producer with NPR for nine years. Elaine is passionate about storytelling in all forms – she's gleefully medium- and platform-agnostic – and about mentoring the next generation of journalists. Fun fact: She's in a local women's parkour group, which helped her learn how to run up an 8-foot wall.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *