On-Site Search Box Text Confuses Users

Do you have a search box on your website that contains a phrase like “Enter Search” or similar? Are you using Google Analytics to track Site Search?

I’ve noticed this on several sites for a while, so thought I would post about it. In most cases where there is text already in the search box, instructing the user what to do, that text tops the list of keywords searched for on the site. Take this example:


As you can see, the search box in the top left of the page has the text “Keyword/Code Search…” inserted by default, and it disappears when you click in the box. Can you guess what the most popular keyword used to search on the site is?


Yep, “Keyword/Code Search…” by a long way! What does that tell us about this use of text in the search box on a website?

My opinion is that it isn’t sufficiently clear to the user what they are supposed to do. So they click the arrow next to the box, expecting it to take them to a full search page, but instead, it gives them the search results from the site for “Keyword/Code Search…” In this site’s case, that gives you a full list of all the products in the catalogue, but not a search page – you get the same box and text again.

My take on this is that designers need to be more instructional about what to do with/how to use the search box on a web page. Just putting “Keyword” in the box is not telling people how to use the function, but “Type what you’re looking for in this box” might just work.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.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