— August 29, 2019
These days we seldom find ‘zero results’ for our search queries on Google. In fact, the search engine has become so powerful, thanks to evolving algorithms, that it effortlessly throws up ‘Accurate and Relevant Results’ for all our search queries.
However, one cannot say the same thing about eCommerce sites. Their internal search engine is not as powerful and robust as Google. So, time and again, you will find eCommerce sites throwing up “No Results Pages” on your screen, even when the content exists on their pages.
Unfortunately, these No Results pages have become a dead-end for the users. They get stuck, confused, and eventually are forced to move on.
In an ideal world, the website’s internal search engine should be so dynamic that it’s capable of dissecting even poorly worded queries and get results for the users.
E.g. I simply typed in 1231, and Amazon’s quickly throws up almost 1000 results
Here, I walk you through 4 simple tactics to give your ‘No Results Pages’ a complete facelift and drive more conversions to your site.
#1. Don’t Sweep the “No Results” Mistake Under the Carpet – Admit It
If you are unable to provide a proper result for a user’s search query, make it known to them outrightly. Don’t display a blank page. It will only set in motion unwarranted worries on the user’s mind. As in they will start wondering about the status of the page: whether the web page is fully-loaded or half-loaded and things like that.
Like it or not, one of the vital prerequisites of website UX is that users should be knowing what’s going on the website so that they could decide: whether to wait for the search results to pop up or move on?
Mistakes happen. No results happen. Acknowledge it and figure a way out.
#2. Don’t Tiptoe Around the Fact – Make it Loud and Clear
The message “NO RESULTS FOUND” should be displayed front and center on your web page when the user fails to find content that matches with their search query. Also, make sure that typography is bold enough and proper spacing is used just like CRUTCHFIELD does it on its website.
E.g., CRUTCHFIELD has “No Results Found” message loud and clear on its pages.
What happens if the “No Result Pages’ message is subtly put?
Users will simply overlook the “No Results” messages that are not easily visible to them, and will instead check ads and other related links, mistaking them for search results.
E.g., as you can see from the image above while carrying a search query on NexTag, the user has misspelled the search term. And, in fact, the page did show a message, “Sorry, no matches found.” But the user seems to have skipped this particular info completely because the message appears pretty much lost – squeezed in between the site logo and the heading in the body of the page.
The NN research group used eye-tracking software to find where the users were focusing while looking at the NexTag screen. The blue dots show where their eyes have been focusing upon on the page.
So, you can see the user never looked at the “No Results” message and instead they skipped over to check out to what appeared like the main content of the page.
This is because users, over the years, have developed strong mental model about search engine usage, which prompts them to overlook the generic information offered at the top and focus on the list of search results in the body of the page.
Long story short: Make the “No Results Found” message highly visible so that users don’t miss it.
#3. Don’t Leave Users High and Dry – Recommend Complementary Categories or Recently Viewed Products
If the user fails to find a product in a specific category, in that case, you can direct the user to the main category page.
For instance, if the user is looking for a ‘wine-colored –one- piece-dress,’ but the site doesn’t have one, a link to the “one-piece dresses for women’ category might just work fine.
Additionally, recommending products based on user’s browsing history might not help them find products they are looking for, but it can surely lead them to towards other stuff they might be interested in.
For example, even if the user is tired of finding that unique piece of crystal necklace set and is on the verge of leaving your site, you can always recommend them to pick up those tote bags they were viewing earlier.
#4. Walk the Extra Mile – Get the Customer Service People in the Loop
If your site is using a live chat software or if you are running an exclusive customer service cell, then it will nice if you could run your customer service phone numbers or helpline links on the No Results pages. Or you can even add the phone numbers of your salespeople so that users could easily track the products they are looking for with their help. It has been recently observed that some users prefer to chat rather than make calls to the customer support team.
The execution of the strategies mentioned above will ensure that your “No Results” pages become a springboard for new searches and not a dead-end for the users.