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Andras Rung is a Hungarian usability expert who has worked for various institutions and companies since 2002. He is the co-author of the first Hungarian usability book and author of the usability blog Ergomania.
One of the most influential factors in our buying decisions is the opinions of our friends and relatives. Likewise, a large majority of online shoppers now trust what other customers say about the products they buy more than the e-tailers themselves. The reason is that we trust people who are "on our side," even if we do not know them personally.
This attitude was described as the “Amazon effect” by Joshua Porter in his book Designing for the Social Web. He observed during his tests that people always started shopping on Amazon first. Their main reason was not that Amazon was better or that they had an Amazon account; they simply knew that on Amazon they could always find trustworthy information provided by people like them. They wanted to know the “truth,” not an idealistic vision of the product decorated by marketing cliches.
While product findability is a key factor of success in e-commerce, it is predominantly enabled by simple search alone. And while simple search usually doesn't fulfill complex needs among users, website developers and owners still regard advanced search as just another boring to-do item during development. Owners won't go so far as to leave it out, because every e-commerce website has some kind of advanced search functionality, but they probably do not believe it brings in much revenue.
On the contrary, well-devised advanced search offers several benefits and can be more than just a clumsy, complicated tool. First of all, effective search can accelerate the sales process. And faster sales can increase conversions, because you will not be losing customers who give up trying to find products. Furthermore, fast, precise and successful searches increase your customers' trust.
In this article, we will review how to build an interface that offers users the power of advanced search while preserving the clarity of simple search.