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Is a Bigger Search Bar Really Better?

WhichTestWon's Analysis: (Click back to see versions A & B)

– Case Study –

By: Deborah O’Malley | Jan. 17, 2018


The digital marketing agency, Elite SEM, conducted this standout search bar test for their client Natchez, an outdoor products and survival gear supplier.

Test Background & Goal

After analyzing Google Analytics and Hot Jar heat mapping data, Elite SEM’s testing team saw the majority of Natchez’s shoppers were return visitors who used the site search function — even though the search bar was quite small.

With thousands of products offered on Natchez’s site, the team suspected pushing visitors to use the site search — by doubling the size of the search bar — would help shoppers find specific products more quickly and easily, leading to higher purchases.

Test Details

To test the effect of doubling the site search bar, over 34 thousand visitors saw a version of the site with either the smaller or larger search bar. Traffic was split 50/50.

The test ran on Optimizely for 27 days.


The team suspected increasing the visual prominence of the search bar would encourage more visitors to use the site search function, enabling shoppers to more easily find the products they were seeking, leading to increased revenue.


Winner: Version B, the larger search bar – which was double the size of the original – had an incredible impact all the way down the funnel, increasing revenue 7.5%, at 99% confidence.


This test shows size really does matter!

First off, small changes can make a big difference.

Secondly, increasing the size and prominence of a search bar can help increase conversions — especially when a site has thousands of products available online.

Enlarging the size of the search bar may have two positive effects:

  1. It can make a visual statement about the importance of using the search bar, helping guide customers to it.
  2. It may make it easier for customers to find the exact product they’re looking for, potentially contributing to higher sales.

In this case, conversions likely translated all the way down the funnel — to higher revenue — because visitors experienced less friction early in the process. Shoppers were immediately able to find the exact products they were searching for. So, could easily move down the funnel from the “shopping” stage to the “buying stage” without experiencing a lot of pain points along the way.

Additional research corroborates this suspicion, showing that visitors who use the search bar feature are more than 5 times more likely to make a purchase over visitors who don’t use a site’s search functionality!

As a result, making sure your search bar is highly prominent and visible is a highly effective conversion strategy.

Although this isn’t the only study showing search bar placement and prominence impacts conversions, it adds a valuable contribution to the literature confirming size does matter. 

In response to the question, “is a bigger search bar really better?” the answer appears to be a resounding YES!

That said, it is possible to make the search bar so big that it distracts from the rest of the site. So, proper judgement and testing is needed.

Congratulations to the Elite SEM who won Gold in the Search category for this test as part of the recently held Best-In-Test awards.

Actionable Takeaways

  1. Size matters. Bigger may be better when it comes to the size of your search bar.
  2. Big search bar = higher conversions. While it’s not definite, a larger search bar may translate to a more fluid user experience, ultimately increasing site conversions and revenue.
  3. Optimize placement and prominence. Test the optimal combination of placement and size to make your search bar visually prominent – without distracting visitors from other important elements of your site.

Tell Us Your Thoughts:

Why do you think the larger search bar won?

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By: Deborah O’Malley, M.Sc.

Deborah is the Director of Digital Development at She holds a master’s of Science (M.Sc.) degree with a specialization in eye tracking technology and is Google Analytics certified. When not helping optimize websites, she’s busy in the kitchen making homemade fudge, or burning it off at the gym.



Winning Version


Reader Guesses:

Which Test Won?

  • Version B
  • Version A
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