In 1998, Google - the world’s most ubiquitous search engine - was born, and with it the idea of type-to-search. The idea was simple: type what you want to know and find the information that you’re looking for. That model has taken over ever since. In fact, today, 93% of online experiences begin with a search engine.
However, just because search engines work that way, doesn’t mean your website should rely on search as well. The world of the internet and technology has changed, and, especially for the website model, type-to-search has become under-effective, overused and overrated. This is especially true given the emerging advancements of AI and in scenarios where you can capture user “context” on your website.
The point? If you’re using the search engine model for your website, you’re approaching it all wrong.
Let’s start by discuss the breakdown of the type-to-search model and explain why point-and-click interfaces are more effective when building a frictionless online experience on your website.
The Drawbacks of Type-to-Search: Why The Model No Longer Works
Traditional type-to-search is a time-consuming, multi-step process: users have to formulate a text query, press “Enter” or “Search,” sift through the results and eventually select an option that may provide the answers that they’re looking for. It’s a lot of footwork and it doesn’t work effectively on a business’ website. Why?
The Internet of Oversaturation
One glaring issue is that most websites have become oversaturated with information and words, giving users poor search results and too many search results every time they have a query.
Unfortunately, this usually happens because of good intentions: every business owner wants their site to have the best content, the best products and the most up-to-date material - and they’ve been told that they need all of this to survive. As a result, they release consistent blogs, product updates and site content to increase their ranking, address users’ needs and make their site stand out.
This would be great if the average user could get to it all, but they just can’t. To give you an idea, every 60 seconds there are 500 hours of video uploaded on Youtube, 3.3 million Facebook posts, 149,513 emails and 1,440 WordPress posts sent out. On top of that, Google gets over 100 billion searches a month, and over 75% of users don’t even make it past the first page of results when they have a question. While, in some cases, this is because they’ve found the answers they’re looking for, it can also be because they are simply tired of looking through results. In this staggeringly overwhelming context, chances are that your website content is simply not being seen if it’s presented in a type-to-search format - no matter how compelling it is.
Type-to-search places excessive cognitive load on users by requiring them to both craft a search and sift through search results. On one hand, requiring users to verbalize their search brings up issues of semantics and vocabulary - where one person may type “best jacket for winter,” for example, another could search for “good jackets,” and a third could ask for the “best parkas to wear.” They’re all looking for the same thing, but they’re using different words, which means that they’re likely to get slightly different results or have difficulty finding the most relevant answers on your site. Even further, if you have listed all jackets as “overcoats,” they’re unlikely to find any relevant results at all.
On top of that, there is typically the added issue of website organization. On most company sites, users usually have to go to multiple pages - through a search bar, product page, FAQ page, etc. - to conduct their search and find content that’s relevant to them, and most users have no patience for this process anymore.
The Changing Internet User
Overall, the average online customer is changing. Today’s users have higher expectations than ever before and they want their online experience to be responsive, aesthetically pleasing, intuitive and fast. More often than not, this means that they don’t want to type and they don’t want to wait.
In fact, studies show that 67% of mobile users will leave a website if they become frustrated with the site’s navigation, and less than 1% of these users will actually search through knowledge bases attached to a site. And these statistics will only get worse - as technologies become more advanced, users will have even less patience for this traditional search and they will simply refuse to deal with it.
How This Will Affect Your Business Model: The Rise of Point-and-Click
In this modernized landscape, the path of least resistance is point-and-click. It’s everything that today’s users want - responsive, aesthetically pleasing, intuitive and fast - especially when it’s combined with artificial intelligence. In these cases, it can not only provide highly-relevant, on-page answers but also predict what users will need and when they’ll need it.
More specifically, point-and-click can lead to:
- Improved UX and decreased cognitive load on end users
- Increased long-term efficiency for businesses
- Highly relevant, on-page answers
- Increase in sales for businesses
- Lower support costs
- Happier, more successful customers
As we mentioned, AI makes all the difference here, helping to facilitate the point-and-click model and make it more effective. How?
Artificial intelligence has the power to capture the context of a user’s journey on a website - things like what page they are on, what they’re doing, what products they are interested in, etc. - and provide powerful personalization to each of those users based on that context. This changes the game completely: where point-and-click gives users easy-to-access choices, AI makes sure that those choices are much smarter and highly contextualized.
This changes the game and provides a highly effective alternative to the type-to-search model.
And more and more businesses are catching on. Thumbtack, for example - a site that can be used to find home contractors and other services - is not search-based at all. With Thumbtack, users never have to search or browse to find the services that they’re looking for. In fact, there is no option to do so. Instead, users simply submit their requested job by clicking “request” on the service that they need and filling out one prompted bubble at a time.
Once they submit their request, Thumbtack comes back with 3-5 options that are pre-screened via their AI algorithms for skillset, experience, location and availability. The user simply clicks on their choice and hires someone for the job.
The platform does all the work and the user doesn’t have to conduct a single search. Not only does this provide more effective, precise help, but it also improves user experience and considerably speeds up the search process.
Overall, point-and-click solutions are on the rise - and it’s easy to see why. In an oversaturated, impatient online world, type-to-search is no longer getting the job done. Make sure that your company doesn’t fall behind in the AI-powered point-and-click revolution.
Are Your Customers Missing the Power of AI Point-and-Click?
AnswerDash brings smart, AI powered self-service in a point-and-click interface. AnswerDash can predict the most likely inquiries that users will have on any given web page by using AI. By dynamically offering up smart Q&A, users don't have to leave the page or type to search for what they need. AnswerDash's proven technology will reduce support costs, increase revenue and provide you with valuable data to help ensure the best experience for your customers.