Website BFFs: Search and Navigation

laptop_headerSite search can be the preferred way for some users to find information at a website, but good site navigation is still a critical tool for usability. This is according to the latest findings published by Nielsen Norman Group.

Navigation serves important functions: it shows people what they can find on the site, and teaches them about the structure of the search space. Using the navigation categories is often faster and easier for users than generating a good search query. Plus, many times site search does not work well or requires users to have a good understanding of its limitations.

Here are five reasons why websites cannot expect users to rely on search only.

  1. Search Requires Knowledge: In order to formulate a good search query users need to know fairly well what they are searching for.
  2. Search Increases Memory Load: Search requires users to think about attributes that are relevant and incorporate them in the query.
  3. More work: Search forces users to work more because not only must they come up with a query, but they also must type it.
  4. Site search often works poorly.
  5. Some users have poor search skills.