The market for online shoppers can be dark and perilous territory for eCommerce sites. Customers come and go, and it can be easy to disappear forever in a forest of competing stores. Don’t be snatched up by the myriad threats to your site by keeping a keen eye focused on optimizing your site’s usability to welcome visitors and urge them to stay longer, make purchases, and visit often.

Your site’s search should not be full of booby traps and hidden passageways. According to Ian MacDonald, of Party Supplies Delivered, the best sites offer clear pathways to products, clever product merchandising and an easy-to-find search box.

Improving your site’s usability through site search and making products easy to find is essential. But instead of warding off vampires and werewolves, many sites scare off customers by hiding the search box. Mark McTamany from Cell Bikes said one of the worst site searches he saw was from an Australian retailer’s site, which didn’t even have a search box. “How could you have a website with no search function?”

Instead, your search box should be a harbinger of safe, effective site search, clearly visible at the top of the page. Then give customers a prompt such as “What are you looking for?” to lead them to begin shopping. When customers search for products, they are more likely to buy because they have a clear idea of what they want, and are looking for it directly. Make sure they find it.

MacDonald also said showing results by popularity and relevance and then refining those results help your customers find exactly what they want. Giving too many results will awaken hordes of dead, irrelevant items that will overtake any customer and cause them to flee.

Dr. Frankenstein had an easy time finding the perfect bolt using SLI’s site search

Allowing refinements of search attributes such as brand, color, rating, size or other product specification lets customers quickly narrow down results to find their desired product. Instead of searching for “bolt” and finding thousands of options, Dr. Frankenstein can narrow the selection by material, diameter, length and thread pitch to make sure it’s just the right fit for his monster.

You don’t need a magic potion to create a spellbinding eCommerce site; these simple tips can help encourage your customers to have a happy ending.