How to Test Online Store Search Functionality

How to Test Online Store Search Functionality

Imagine a website without a search box. You get stuck in an infinite loop of scrolling at e-stores and develop extreme anxiety towards online dictionaries. 

That would be pretty daunting, right?

Well, this is the reality for many websites. According to the survey, almost 20% of e-commerce platforms do not support searching by product name, 70% of them require searching by the exact product type, while less than half allow faceted search with multiple filters to narrow down search results.

In this article, we are going to show you how to make sure the search functionality on your website meets all the modern requirements by the all-conquering power of software testing.

Sounds good? Let’s get to it!

What is Search Functionality: Necessary Features and Ways to Improve Site Search

Search functionality is an essential tool that offers website users to quickly locate the content they need by searching for specific words or phrases. It is usually presented as a simple text field with a button to trigger the search. There are several options for putting up this feature on your website. Try search widgets available on CMS platforms, local CGI scripts (Common Gateway Interface for the entire site and JavaScript across individual pages), remotely hosted search CGIs (like Google Custom Search Engine), or JavaScript Searches.

What Makes a Great Search Functionality?

 

1. Search Box

The search box is the first part of the search function the user interacts with, so it is necessary to make it noticeable. Placement is principal, that is why put the search box in the header of the website, so it appears on every page. Also, consider adding an auto-complete function to search quicker.

2. Introductory Text

The introductory text at the top of the search results page serves various purposes. On the one hand, it helps people to use the search function and navigate through the results. On the other hand, it is valuable for CEO purposes as there you can insert essential keywords to improve your website ranking on Google.

3. Filters

Filters serve for narrowing the selection down to a particular category or item quality,  like fabric color, article topic, etc. The more accurate is the search, the more likely users are to find what they need. Of course, this feature requires the items on the website to be already grouped into categories and subcategories.

4. Sort Function

Users might want to sort the results alphabetically, from newest to oldest, or by price range. 

5. Nothing Found

Occasionally the user might click “search” with an empty search box or look for a term that will yield no results. In this case, they get a “nothing found” page that still should be useful - for instance, by providing search tips, suggesting similar keywords, or offering links to popular categories.

Best Practices for Improving Website Search

Never overlook the built-in search feature on your website as failing to guarantee a decent search experience can cost you conversions and sales. There are several practices to strengthen your website search functionality.

  • Manually refining common search queries
  • Providing a curated auto-complete function, based on search logs or the descriptive metadata
  • Including realistic user synonyms and alternative terminology 
  • Using stemming (the feature that enables removing word endings and reducing them to morphological stem to provide a more comprehensive search result)
  • Offering a “Did you mean” link for misspellings

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Search Functionality Testing: Scenarios Checklist

Even though search functionality is a small element in the overall website structure, it also needs testing. This process covers the accuracy and relevance of the search results, fast operation, as well as search engine testing. 

1. Data Correctness Testing

Test the result with specific and general keywords; make sure the website does not redirect to the error page if the user inserts % in the search field; check whether the search functionality offers auto-suggestions and typo-corrections. 

2. Error Handling 

Test the search result with an empty search box, long text, error spellings, multiple spaces, and capital letters at the beginning, in the middle, and at the end of the word combination.

3. Functional Testing

Check whether the search box length, the supported characters, and the length of the query are as per the specification; test whether the search page offers price and product sort based on sales rank, popularity, brands, reviews, categories. shipping options, etc. 

4. Security 

Test what is stored in cookies, XSS, API security, source code, whether it is necessary to use HTTPs instead of HTTP, and try the SQL injection.

5. Performance Testing

Test the search functionality performance with the high number of results and users, as well as monitor the request and response time with the various search queries.

6. User Interface

Test how the query is displayed in the search box, identify any missing CSS. Make sure that the search box is noticeable and easy to use.

7. Compatibility

To make sure the search functionality is mobile-friendly, check whether the search box is displayed, provides a category selector, and offers a drop-down menu on mobile and tablet; perform cross-browser testing; check how the search functionality works with different operating systems.

Summary

Search functionality is a tool that helps website users quickly find the information and products they need. A great one involves particular features, including a noticeable search box, filters, etc. that make the search experience even more comfortable. Search functionality testing is a complex process. It covers the majority of standard testing types, placing a particular emphasis on data correctness and error handling parameters.

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