Mighty Engine


Why Your Search Form and Sitemap Are So Last Year

Unless you run a content archive or Amazon-sized store, search forms are pointless, and unless you’re in 2001, sitemaps are unnecessary. That’s just how I , and I look at it this way: If your site has too much content that requires a sitemap—a giant list of every page on your site—or a search form to hopefully find what you’re looking for, it wasn’t built right, or maintained properly. If you design with the end user in mind, I would like to think they could find what they’re looking for easily and not have to rely on antiquated processes to return information.

If you’re hosting a blog or a catalogue you probably have good use for a search form. Though I would hope you’re using something more robust than a simple text input to return results. In this case, the search form serves a purpose scrolling infinitely or continuously tapping the ‘next’ button isn’t efficient. Nor is it likely to get you anywhere on your quest for knowledge.

I should clarify. I’m not anti-search forms or sitemaps as a matter of principle. True I may not use them if I can get away with it, but there are always circumstances in which they can’t be avoided. I don’t condone the use of anything without purpose. Adding a sitemap to your site’s footer, or having a searchbar in your header is, to me, tantamount to admitting you didn’t think about how your site would be used.

Thinking about how a user might interact with your website or find information. Determining how important or relevant that information discovery might be is an important part of a website design. We’re now starting to see sites using dynamic content, culled from your online traffic, to personalize your experience by providing information you may be interested in. The idea being that you’re more likely to find what you’re looking for without the need to search. You would, in turn, be more engaged for longer; this really being the main goal of any website. Creating a more personalized experience for your site, or simply creating a more obvious flow of information ahead of time will potentially improve engagement . You might not have the development team built for implementing something like this, but you can still pay careful attention to your site’s analytics and determine how your site is used, or what information traffic deems important. This can easily dictate your new site structure. Simply give the people what they want without much effort.

So let’s think about information first. I know you might be tempted to put your bio under a page called, ‘The Interesting Life of Timothy Green,’ but don’t do it. Unless your site only has 2 pages, you’re better off sticking with the classic, ‘About Me’ page.