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No result page for search are dead ends. Are there any existing guidelines or research results on effective no result search pages ?

Here is what i have so far.

Typography

Use proper typography and font-sizes to make sure that the user perfectly and easily understand that there are no results matching user's query.

Suggestions

  • Give spelling suggestions in case of misspelled words ( just like google does)
  • Suggest the other results that closely matches the search query
  • Advice about how to modify queries, using different words or fewer words
  • Providing a search box (with the original query still in it for easy editing)

Others

  • Show top search results , or most common searches just to guide the user to a new path just in case user has hit the dead end.

  • Say sorry , for no results ( ? )

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    Nielsen Norman Group offers the following guidelines: 1. Make It Obvious That There Are No Results 2. Offer a Path Forward 3. Don’t Mock the User 4. Good No Results Pages Turn Lemons into Lemonade (from nngroup.com/articles/search-no-results-serp) – Nate Green Jan 14 '16 at 18:29
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This is still a pretty relevant topic. The strategy to follow with greatly depends on the type of service your search is within and the different actions the user has taken to get to this place:

  • is the query too long?
  • are there applied any filters or scopes?
  • Which kind of terms are searchable? do they expect to match terms that aren't indexed?
  • are there misspellings?
  • is it a language issue? For all of these the logs are going to be very valuable in order to understand what users are trying to accomplish and adapting the experience so it fits better their mental model.

As you mentioned, there are a few good practices not to lead users to dead ends. However there are other actions we can take too.

  • Telling the user that the query as they wrote has no results
  • offering partial matches on the query if the query was a long one such as "UX design book written by Nielsen", you could offer results for matching "UX design book" or "UX book Nielsen" "UX design Nielsen"
  • In case there is a misspelling, offer help by correcting it for the user, yet giving the option to force it back to the original query
  • If you were scoped o narrowed to a specific area (such as filters or scoping mechanisms, for example a category "books") offer results from other categories or wider

Hope it helps! It would be great to hear other strategies folks have used for this :)

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You could also offer:

  • Users who searched for X also viewed Y (NB - not the same as suggesting the other results that closely match the search query) like on Amazon
  • once you have logged what people are searching for, you will be able to use Google key matches to suggest similar search terms

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