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UX cheat sheet: searching vs browsing

When designing search results and interest sites, you have to keep in mind what ‘mode’ your user is in. Are they in ‘searching mode’ or ‘browsing mode’? This will help you determine how to design your platform to best support your user’s journey.

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Browsing behaviour is much more common than searching behaviour. The user is generally looking for entertainment or vague research gathering. Browsing for amusement can be expected when scrolling through Twitter and Instagram, but can also be online shopping without intending to buy anything. Res...

There are two types of searching behaviours: one is goal focused (searching mode), and one is research or inspiration focused (browsing mode).

Key differences:

  • In searching mode, you are ‘looking for’, while in browsing mode you are ‘loo...

The common mindset of anyone in searching mode — give me what I need to know in the quickest way possible.

The user wants a specific answer that they can action or at least will consider actioning.

  • Looking for a dentist in your area.
  • Lo...

When designing for this mode, keep the following in mind:

  • Make sure that your search bar is available on every page.
  • Make sure that your search bar has auto-suggest to help users who are unsure.
  • Make sure that your search engine can pick up spelling mistakes and suggest...

The key in both the search and browsing modes is to put emphasis on whatever it is that the user wants to see.

Also, display information that will make comparing items easier.

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