Search functionality plays a crucial role in user experience, and this is why it is essential to understand the differences and integration of key features such as Search, Search Suggestions List, and Search Results Page.
In this article, we will explore these features individually, discuss their unique characteristics, and highlight how they work together to provide a seamless search experience for users.
The search feature allows users to enter keywords or phrases to find relevant information within a website or application. The primary objective of testing the search functionality is to ensure accurate and efficient retrieval of search results. Here are some key aspects to consider during testing:
Input Validation: Test various input scenarios, including empty search queries, special characters, long queries, and multi-word queries, as any end-user would do, to verify that the search input is appropriately validated.
Search Algorithm: Understand the algorithm employed and test different search queries to ensure accurate and relevant results are returned.
Search Filters: Validate the functionality of search filters, such as sorting options, date range filters, category filters, and any other relevant filters presented within the feature.
Here is an example of its location and how this feature looks in the Test IO Academy environment. Usually, the search feature is located at the top of a page and presents a magnifier icon that sometimes triggers it, but sometimes users must press/tap on the return/enter key; this is a design decision, not a bug. The best implementations of this feature will display a clear search query button and a placeholder text within the search bar (also called search box or search field) suggesting what can be searched for, like ours: ❝Search for articles...❞.
Search Suggestions List
The search suggestions list is a feature that dynamically displays a dropdown menu with suggested search terms as users type within the search feature. This feature aims to assist users in formulating their search queries. Here are some testing considerations:
Accuracy and Relevance: Test the accuracy and relevance of the search suggestions by comparing them with the user's input and expected suggestions. Ensure that the suggestions are contextually appropriate.
Real-Time Updates: Validate that the search suggestions list updates in real-time as users type, providing a responsive and dynamic user experience.
User Interaction: Test the behaviour of the search suggestions list when users interact with it, such as selecting a suggestion, navigating using keyboard inputs, or dismissing the suggestions.
After entering the term ❝Bugs❞ within the search bar, a list of articles related to the user's term is displayed to select from; this list is the search suggestions feature working as expected (notice the clear search query button on the right end as an ❝X❞ button).
Search Results Page
The search results page lists items or content relevant to the user's search query. This page is critical for user satisfaction, as it determines the success of their search experience. Here's what to focus on during testing:
Result Accuracy: Verify that the search results accurately match the user's query and display relevant content. Test for various search end-user scenarios to ensure accurate and expected results are returned.
Pagination and Navigation: Validate the functionality of pagination, ensuring that users can navigate through multiple search results pages quickly —test navigation elements such as next, previous, and specific page links.
UI/UX Elements: Check the visibility, clarity, and consistency of UI elements such as result titles, descriptions, thumbnails, sorting options, and any additional information provided alongside the search results.
Consider that a search feature is implemented via algorithms that retrieve items (products on web shops) from a database via specific criteria, rendering them on the feature search result pages. These products may or may not meet the query users entered, and it is your job to verify if the users get what they are looking for.
These algorithms consider various information from the items we want to find that can be spotted on the product detail pages of such items. Here is the list of the most common factors:
Product Title: The product's title is crucial as it provides a concise description and helps search algorithms determine the relevance of the product to the search query.
Product Description: The description provides detailed information about the product, including its features, specifications, and benefits. Search algorithms analyse the description to understand the context and relevance of the product to the user's search.
Product Category and Attributes: The categorisation and attributes assigned to a product are essential for search algorithms to understand its nature and match it to relevant search queries. For example, if a user searches for ❝laptop,❞ the algorithm should prioritise displaying laptop products rather than unrelated items.
Keywords: Search algorithms analyse the keywords used in the product detail page, including the title, description, and attributes. These keywords help determine the relevance of the product to specific search queries.
Customer Reviews and Ratings: User-generated content, such as customer reviews and ratings, can play a significant role in search algorithms. Positive reviews and high ratings indicate the product's quality and popularity, influencing its position in search results.
Price and Availability: Search algorithms may consider the product's price and availability. Users often search for products within specific price ranges or prefer items currently in stock.
Images and Videos: Visual content, such as product images and videos, can enhance the product detail page and provide additional context for search algorithms. Algorithms may analyse image tags, alt text, and video descriptions to understand the content better.
Brand and Seller Information: The reputation and authority of the brand or seller can be considered by search algorithms. Established brands and trusted sellers may have higher visibility in search results.
Finally, after pressing the return/enter key, the user navigates to a page where all articles related to the ❝Bugs❞ terms are listed; this is the search result page where, in the best implementations, the section is stated as such. Like on our website, that says ❝Search results for Bugs❞ .
Suppose the page doesn't state that it is a result page; in such cases, you can always check the search address of the browser to see if the user navigated to a search result page. To identify a result page, you should look for the path as the one in the screenshot: ?q=bugs.
The ❝q❞ parameter typically stands for ❝query❞ and is used to pass a search term or any other form of query to the server. Examining the URL with the query parameter ❝?q=bugs❞ means that the web page you access displays search results or content related to the term ❝bugs.❞
The ❝?❞ symbol in the URL is a separator between the base URL and the query parameters. It indicates the start of the query string. Any parameters that need to be passed to the server are added after the ❝?❞. Multiple parameters can be added using the ❝&❞ symbol to separate them.
You can learn more about URL structure in our article URL Structure for Manual Exploratory Testing.
Integration of the Three Features
The search feature, search suggestions list, and search results page work together seamlessly to provide users with an efficient and satisfying search experience. Testing the integration among these features is crucial to ensure a cohesive user journey. Here are some integration testing considerations:
End-to-End Flow: Test the entire search process, from entering a search query and validating search suggestions to viewing and interacting with the search results page.
Data Consistency: Ensure the search suggestions list and search results page display consistent and up-to-date information —test for scenarios where the search results change. At the same time, the possibility of users interacting with the suggestions.
Error Handling: Verify how the system handles errors, such as when no search suggestions or search results are available. If applicable, you can test the user experience in these scenarios, including error messages and alternative suggestions.
Mastering the testing of search functionality, search suggestions lists, and search results pages is essential for delivering a seamless and intuitive user experience. By understanding their differences and testing their integration, you, as manual exploratory testers at Test IO, can contribute to developing robust and user-friendly search features in applications and websites, ultimately enhancing customer satisfaction and reaching high testing standards.