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How the Search Box Has Changed and Why Your Business Should Be Prepared

Dean Thrasher

Senior Solution Architect, EPAM

In the past five years, we’ve seen a big shift in user behavior on websites. The search box used to be the option of last resort, after a visitor had exhausted the navigation options in the menu. Designers and engineers used to focus on navigation, because it’s what users craved.

Today, the first step for users is the search box. The quality of the search experience forms the early impressions of your brand. With poor search results, users immediately leave your site and try a competitor’s site instead.  And search technology isn’t simply the magnifying glass icon on your homepage anymore. Now, search features are used everywhere throughout modern web applications, often without users knowing it. As a result, smart companies now spend an increasing amount of time getting search right.

Getting search right means moving beyond the raw text analytics approaches used in the past. Users increasingly expect personalized experiences across their digital devices and platforms. Businesses that deliver on this personalized approach reap serious revenue rewards. If you are a hardware retailer and a potential customer is searching for a “power drill” on your eCommerce site, a traditional text-based approach to search results couldn’t differentiate if the customer is a professional builder or simply an average “do-it-yourself-er.” However, by utilizing intelligent search functionality that analyzes user behavior, the “power drill” search results can be tailored to reflect the user’s interests and goals – whether the tool will likely be used to build a home or hang a mirror.

Text-based approaches to search also suffer when the pages being searched vary greatly in length and quality, or when customers use different terms than company employees. For example, online retailers often get their product information from their vendors or manufacturers, and in doing so, rely heavily on the vendor to provide complete, accurate, and up-to-date product data. If a user searches for a trademarked product and doesn’t include the trademark symbol in the search box, your product may not even show up in the results. By combining text search with behavioral insights, such as previous searches of similar products, the quality of search results improves dramatically.

By employing intelligent search functionality, your customers can find the products they are looking for more easily, generating increased revenue for your brand. To digitally transform in the market, it’s crucial for businesses to think strategically about their search capabilities. EPAM is proud to begin our partnership with Coveo, a global leader in intelligent search and predictive analytics. Utilizing Coveo’s capabilities in delivering the most relevant information to your customers, together, we can help our clients solve their toughest digital challenges and succeed in the ever changing world of search.

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