Site search is invaluable. It can be both a fast track to relevant content or a last resort. It can be a way to measure your users’ needs, or it can be a way to surface content that might otherwise be lost.
Site search can be a lot of things — from simple to complex. The simple: type in words, get results. The complex: integrating dozens of databases into a federated results page.
But if there’s one thing that site search is not, it’s easy. The work that goes into shaping and crafting a usable site search — by which we mean the search function that delivers results from inside your website — is a process in decision making. And while most content management systems provide base search functionality out of the box, most of the organizations we work with look for something more robust.
Ultimately, search comes down to two questions:
- What content will you search? This includes decisions around choosing content types, specific fields, and sections of the site.
- How will you organize those results? This includes decisions around the results page, how fields are weighted for priority, and any kind of filtering and faceting.
A Four-Part Series
Over the next few posts, we’re going to dive pretty deep into how site search works, how we choose which functionality to include (and what to leave out) and finally how we want our results to be organized. We’ll wrap up with a look at how you ultimately make your decision.
We’ll post all of these at once, Netflix-binge style. Tackle one a day, or cycle through them all at once. The series is as follows:
- Part One: How Does Search Work? — A quick overview of search to center ourselves.
- Part Two: What Content Will You Search? — A look at how we determine the scope of searchable content, from content types to synonyms.
- Part Three: How Will You Organize Results? — A dive into the site search results page, including filtering, weighting, and the look of the results page itself.
- Part Four: Choosing the Right Solution — Finally, we talk through some of the options for search engines as our long search journey comes to an end.
We’re ready when you are. Let’s get started.Part One: How Does Search Work?