The sixth and last part in this series, Design Elements of Search is dedicated to the zero results page. This lonely place is where your users end up when the search solution doesn’t find anything. Do your best to be friendly and helpful to your users here, will you?
A blog series – Six posts about Design Elements of Search
- The Search Bar
- Autocomplete Suggestions
- Landing page
- Zero-results page <– You are here
A word on Technology and Relevance – a disclaimer
Equally important as having a good user interface is having the right technology and the right relevance model set-up. I will not cover technology and relevance in this blog series. If you wish to read more, these topics is well covered by Findwise since before: Improve search relevancy and Findwise.com/technology.
Designing Zero Results Page
The design, function and layout of your zero results page gossip about the quality of your search solution. This page is often forgotten and discussed last (like in this series). Whenever I review existing search solutions, this is where I start, because a lot of problems with existing search solutions show up here. You need to understand that from the user’s perspective, ending up on a zero results page can be a frustrating experience. You need to help the user recover from this state. Below is a good example from one of our clients. The intranet of the Swedish courts. The page clearly explains what has happened, No documents were found.
Providing further Help
Sometimes there is nothing the system can do to deliver results. The last resort is when it’s time to ask your user to alter their query. Sometimes the query is misspelled or otherwise not optimal. You can copy and use this text on your own zero results page if you like.
- Check that all words are spelled correctly
- Try a different search
- Try a more general search
- Use fewer search terms
Avoid digging a deeper hole
Microsoft’s OneDrive provides a beautiful zero results page below, but they make a big mistake by showing filtering options in this state. This makes no sense, if there already are no results, there will definitely not be more by narrowing down the search scope further. Avoid this mistake!
That was it! The whole Design Elements of Search series is done. This is not everything however, designing a search solution is deeper than this. Me and my friends at Findwise will gladly help you realize all of your dreams. Ok maybe not all of them, but your search related dreams maybe? Ok, that was awkward.
See you in the future, best regards //Emil Mauritzson