Friday, October 19th, 2007
Apple has rolled out a wonderfully innovative and deceptively simple approach to search on apple.com. As you begin to enter your search term a dropdown window appears below the search box with recommended matching results. As you continue typing, the results list dynamically updates with a refined list of results that most closely matches what you are typing.
There are never more than eight results, and each is accompanied by a clear title, brief descriptive text and either a product image or recognizable icon (a green plus sign in a white circle for support topics, for example). It’s instantly scannable and completely non-intrusive. Most importantly, the performance of the search is impressive. Over a DSL connection it updates in nearly realtime, just a split second behind what you are typing. There is a rarely a lag, and good thing because the experience would fall part if there was.
If you hit enter at any time, you get dropped into a typical search results page, but that was hardly necessary. For 90% of the search terms I tried I was able to find what I needed without ever leaving the homepage. Combine that efficiency with a compelling, quality visual presentation and you have incredibly satisfying customer site interaction experience.
Quite possibly one of the best site search innovations since parametric filtering.