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11

September

2011

Let Your Visitors Browse Instead of Search :

Do you know the saying, “You can’t see the forest because of the trees”? This saying reflects how Internet users are unable to see the vastness of what the Internet has to offer because they so focused on searching for something specific. For those of us who spent time in libraries studying we could easily access the tens of thousands of books at our disposal by browsing card catalogs and aisles, even if we didn’t know exactly what we were searching for. But how can you do this online?

Amazon and Netflix offer this browsing capability by allowing visitors to search by category or genre. Yes, they still have a search box so people can go directly the 10” skillet or Titanic DVD they are looking for, but much in the same way as browsing through a “brick and mortar” store you can browse products on their website.

Why browsing is important is because it allows for discovery. Discovery can be a powerful tool for the customer as it keeps their experience pleasant. Search can be limiting in a shopping experience because a customer is presented by a seemingly finite number of choices. Discovery expands that and puts the customer in charge of what they want.

Social media can facilitate discovery. With services like Google+, Facebook “likes” and Twitter, users can share their discoveries with friends and provide a human recommendation rather than a problematic search algorithm. Of course, with the rate the web is continuing to grow it is impossible for social media suggestions to fully capture every corner of e-commerce, but it can cover a lot.

So as consumers and social media users come now to look for browsing opportunities, it’s important to offer that ability to your visitors. From social sharing to browsing, encourage your customers spend time discovering your site.