What is next level search?

5m 45s

In their One Question for UpTop Health video series, UpTop Health experts discuss what is next level search. For more information: Serve Up a Seamless Healthcare User Experience With Next-Level Search

Moderator: John Sloat, (CEO)
Interviewees: Abbey Smith (UX Designer), Deborah Roberts (UX Designer)
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Episode Transcript

Moderator:  Welcome to One Question with UpTop Health. Today’s question references our recent article, “Serve Up a Seamless Healthcare User Experience With Next-Level Search” where we talk about next level search. I loved the article, I thought it was really great. But my question is, what is next level search? Abbey, could you go first?

Abbey Smith: Sure. So, I think there are a handful of things that can constitute as next level search. When these things are done well, it really up-levels your site or whatever platform that you’re have the search on. It gives your users a better experience. All in all, it’s a great way to make sure things go really well as someone is using your product or service. And understanding your users enough to be able to serve up relevant results is key. So, you’ve got to be able to handle common query types like exact search, where the user knows exactly what they’re searching for already. Things like symptom search, especially being in the healthcare industry, being able to understand your users as they’re describing their problem can be really helpful.

Then, things like natural language search too, where your user is typing out a query how they would normally speak. This is more in line with what engines like Google can handle, but it’s the gold standard of search engines, and the payoffs will be really great.

There are also a handful of seemingly smaller details, I would say, but just like anything, little details can add up. We’re talking things like making sure that your original search query stays in the search box after the user presses “Enter”, so you don’t make them type it over again making it easier for adjustments to be made if the results aren’t getting them what they wanted. And then, making sure to display the number of results on the page. People often rely on these number of results to judge how successful their search was. So, even though they’re pretty small things, they can really add up and become very meaningful.

Also, it’s important to note that you don’t have to do every single one of the things that I just mentioned (or that Deborah will mention to you), to make your search experience better. Changing one thing at a time can make a really big difference. But, I’m curious to see, to hear what Deborah has to say, too.

Deborah: Thank you, Abbey. Those are really great points. A couple of things you can do with the search bar itself is to have search suggestions, and those are usually shown in the dropdown below the search bar while your user is typing their query. It shows people what is available on the site, how to spell complex words, and what other people are searching for. You could even up-level this to show the suggestions curated and organized by different content types. So, for example, if the user searched for thyroid, suggestions below could include a quick link to their benefit coverage, a short list of top providers, and common prescribed medications. This just helps get the user to the information that they’re looking for, faster.

Then, on the results page, there are a lot of things that, again, are simple, but they make a huge difference in making sure that users don’t abandon. So adding alternate queries or paths to this would be like synonyms or alternative items associated with that user’s query, and presenting them on the page. It provides people a different route to explore if they don’t immediately see the results they’re looking for. And, this also gives them, again, a better understanding of what is available on your site. And if they don’t know what else to look for, it helps to battle search abandonment and rising customer care calls.

Then also having the ability to filter results through faceted search is a big one because that really helps to narrow down results after a user has made their query, so they can eliminate things that are not relevant. That’s really important because testing has shown that a lack of faceted search is actually the direct reason that a lot of sessions are abandoned, because users couldn’t find what they were looking for because the results shown are just way too vast.

A lot of E-commerce sites employ faceted search, so users just may expect this in their healthcare digital experience as well. And along those lines, people have become very used to using search; it has even become their main way of finding, or navigation strategy when using digital experiences. Like Abbey mentioned, they often really do expect the same functionalities that the major search engines like Google or Bing provide. So if there’s a disconnect there, that can lead to abandonment problems.

So it’s really great practice to evaluate your search logs regularly to see how users are using your search, what language they’re using, common queries, and also when abandonment might be happening. This will help you to see where to prioritize and focus your efforts.

Moderator: Thank you, Abbey. and thank you, Deborah, this was great. And, if you liked the article and this video, please join our UpTop Health Newsletter. Thank you.