Now we suggest something!
At the end of last year, my colleague Johannes wrote the blog post "May I suggest something?". Using numerous examples, he showed how (well-known) online magazines waste a lot of potential by not implementing an autocomplete feature.
Yes, I am also a big fan of useful suggestions that shorten the way to my goal. For me, the fastest way to the destination has always been an important factor of a good user experience.
I still remember well how, at the time, I customized the Windows 98 Start menu - especially the Programs folder - so that I could get to the desired application much faster via topic-based subfolders than scrolling through the single application folder. Of course, I used the option to add the most used programs to the taskbar, but both my taskbar and desktop were significantly tidier than the drawer under my desk.
However, with the introduction of a (useful) search for programs, my manually created folder structure became obsolete in the blink of an eye. Suddenly it was enough to type "ex" and "Excel" started after RETURN. Because "Excel" was the best suggestion for my search query, it could be selected directly. What a leap forward.
The combination of search and autocomplete has made it extremely easy for me to access my desktop applications - whether on Windows via WIN+Q or on Mac via CMD+Space. I don't want to miss that anymore.
However, I would also like to be able to access content on websites just as easily and quickly. The faster I reach my goal as a user, the more likely I am to revisit the site or make a purchase decision. And yes, I'm lazy about typing. I've come to expect that the search box will immediately know - not just guess - what I'm actually looking for based on just a few characters. Even if I make a typo. Who always hits every letter exactly on the first try on their cell phone?
So, it's not easy for providers of such solutions to meet their own high standards for search and autocomplete, especially since data volume, performance, update cycles, error tolerance and hit quality pose independent challenges of their own.
With "Proxima", however, we dare to suggest something into which we have incorporated all the requirements of our customers and business partners, as well as our many years of experience. These include, among others:
- Near real-time updates: Especially in a product search, I want to see current prices during the flash deal phase, not after.
- Multi-field support: A name is more precise than a category, an author more unique than the book format - I wish that to be reflected in the ranking.
- Performance: I expect the right hit even before I've finished typing - especially since I'm not always sure about how to spell "Chihuahua".
- UTF8 support: Because only through 人魚の塗り絵 do I know how to color mermaids correctly.
Of course, every user has their own search pattern, their own expectations and so we certainly haven't thought of everything. Nevertheless, we should be put to the test!
Inspired by our long-standing cooperation with Hugendubel and their current autocomplete, we have prepared a Proxima demo that has no other goal than to bring the user to the desired book, author or Tonie in the fastest way possible.