Ever since I began surfing on the web (it’s been well over a decade now), I’ve considered search essential. More so, on sites with a large amount of content, I find myself searching within the site for ease of locating results, especially because even before I understood what SEO was, I knew that not every page was being necessarily crawled by the search engines. Consequently, I put a lot more faith in the on-site search rather than the results spit out by search engines.
I’ve found myself time and time again searching for a term in the email subscription textbox, only to realize after I performed the search that I actually searched within the “subscribe” textbox, which is above the fold. The “search” textbox is on the site, but it’s below the fold (which takes searching for, sometimes!)
I don’t know about others, but while I understand the desire to stick the subscribe button where it’s easily found, I don’t think it does much for usability. And usability should come first. It makes me feel that the web designer forgot to keep the user in mind because the goal is an immediate conversion rather than satisfying the user’s needs.
Here’s an example:
SearchEngineJournal, which was recently redesigned, has the “Subscribe” textbox on top, and only when I scroll down (on my laptop with 1280×800 resolution) do I find the Search button. Since SEJ happens to have a large amount of great content (I suppose it averages 5-10 posts a day), I personally have seen the need in the past to search easily and quickly. I don’t think the current layout is friendly for that purpose.
On the other hand, here’s a site that’s gotten it right:
The search is on the top of the page and the subscribe button is right below. Much further down, a user can sign up for emails if s/he chooses to do so.
Since most of us use RSS feeders anyway, I don’t even see the need to make the email subscription link as apparent.
I am curious to know whether the placement of the “subscribe” button on the top of the page has actually yielded more conversions than if it was in the middle of the page. I’d also be curious to know whether people fall victim to searching in the wrong textbox or if I am the only zombie to do such a silly thing. Does anyone have a preference about this? It seems that it is not often discussed (if ever), though I always catch myself before I make the mistake. In my case, I am always performing a search, and because of this, I believe that it is in the users’ best interests to put the search button where they can find it.