At Bulleye, our expert marketing team is continually tweaking UI/UX for optimal performance. Wherever possible, we’ve incorporated best practices into our off-the-shelf store locator. However, when it comes to the actual integration of our product into your site, it’s up to you and your design team to make it work for your business. Here are some things to keep in mind which will improve usability and help make it easier for users to find and use your store locator or dealer locator software.
#1. Use Obvious Names as Links to Store Locator Page
Be sure to include a site-wide persistent link in the header or footer of your site. Make sure the label is obvious and specific. There is no reason to be too clever here. “Find Stores” “Store Locations” are common names that users will easily recognize. Avoid having other elements on the page that could be confused as suggesting location information-like having a product menu that says: “Where do you want to go?”. Be consistent too. Once you’ve settled on a term, use it throughout the site and leverage what users have learned.
#2. Provide In-Page Links to The Store Locator
In places where the next logical step would be to find a location, add a link to the locator page. This would include product pages, service pages and customer service pages. When linking, include a URL parameter that automatically filters search results to locations that offer that product or service.
#3. Provide Location Search Filtering Options
If locations offer different amenities, services or products, be sure to allow users to filter by these offerings. Make the filtering capabilities easy to find and make the labels clear, non-ambiguous, and not require brand knowledge for users to understand. You may think that calling something “Mega Stores” is good marketing, but to users, they have no idea what that means in the context of their search. If you are allowing users to filter by service, use commonly recognized terms for the service and include the selected items in the results so it’s clear to users that the results match their search criteria.
#4. Correctly Use Checkboxes vs. Drop-downs for Filters
Use checkboxes when you want users to be able to find locations that provide multiple options with a single search. Use drop-downs when the number of options is too large for checkboxes or when it is unlikely users will want to see locations that provide multiple options.
#5. Include a Location Photo for Each Store
Even if you are not using store detail or location landing pages, users will benefit from being able to visualize the location. Perhaps they’ve seen it before. If not, they’ll more easily recognize it when they travel to the location.
#6. Add Value with Location Detail Pages
If you are using location detail pages or local landing pages, make sure that they include useful location specific information which is not on the result listing page. Some ideas include additional photos including photos of the building or entry, descriptions of the location, staff descriptions and photos, special offers, products specific to this location, events and links to location specific social media pages.
#7. Make Map Markers Easy to Understand
Use map markers that are shaped in a way that makes it clear to the user where on the map the marker is pointing. Use different icons to allow users to distinguish between their searched location and the location of the other stores.
The Nielsen Norman Group published a report titled: E-Commerce User Experience. Volume 11 contains 58 guidelines for store finders and locators. Some ideas covered in that report are also presented in this article. It’s a great article with lots of examples and supporting information. You can purchase the full report at: http://www.nngroup.com/reports/ecommerce-store-finders-and-locators/
Here are some other links on store locator usability: