Mobile Search in Action: Creating a Recipe for Success

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Understanding the Mobile Device

Cole says the mobile search functionality that The Catholic Co. provides to mobile users is the same as the search functionality PC site visitors enjoy. Users just type in their desired keywords. However, Cole says the company has already made some slight changes to improve the user experience. Users have the ability to narrow down the search results. "It's not really lacking any major ability that the full site offers," says Cole. "But we don't want to make it too complicated. Once we start complicating it, we defeat the purpose."

Customers can click on links to get more information about products, but they are not bombarded with that extra information when they conduct a
product search. "We give them access to the information, but we don't overload them with information on each page," says Cole. Users can even add an item to their carts directly from the results page.

Costa adds that organizations have to be careful with search results to ensure that they are not technologically cumbersome for mobile device users. "With limited bandwidth, you can't download huge pictures of products," he says. Instead, he recommends opting for thumbnail images.

Endeca's Gosek says the most important things their customers can offer the end user are faster access to the information they seek, a more simplified design, and easy-to-use navigation. Still, she notes that it's also crucial to keep the mobile device-specific applications in mind when developing mobile search capabilities. Working with those can only make the search experience an even richer one. "If you have an iPhone app, you can use the GPS and camera capabilities, and the mapping capabilities," says Gosek. "Think creatively about how you can leverage the capabilities of the device."

Last year, AutoTrader.co.uk launched an iPhone application to enable users to search for vehicles from the inventories of more than 5,000 automobile dealers. Users can create a car profile and use that to search for vehicles in their specific geographic regions based on a ZIP code or a GPS location. "We're focused on helping you very quickly and easily find the car you're looking for and effectively using the iPhone features you don't get on the website," says Goodall.

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