Despite being a staple of web design, poor search usability is something I encounter all the time. Recognising the impact of failed searches (and having a plan for them) could help prevent lost revenue.
A customer walks into a brick and mortar store, asking after a product the staff don’t recognise. The staff shrug, offering nothing but an apology (and perhaps not even that). The customer leaves dissatisfied with the whole exchange, and heads to the nearest competitor instead.
As the owners of this hypothetical business, we’d be pretty cheesed off with our staff. They weren’t helpful, and didn’t even attempt to salvage the interaction. The behavior of many websites and apps is no different.
Visitors being stumped by unhelpful ‘no results found’ screens is one of the most common issues I encounter when user testing. I find it astounding how little emphasis some teams put on this critical scenario.