Creating a usable search page8/22/2012
In this document, we have collected inspiration and advice on how to use SiteSeeker's features and options in order to get maximum business value from your search function.
- Workflow and design patterns
- Guidelines and checklist for search pages
We recommend a feasibility study where you identify the goals for the search function. When this is done, you get a better insight to the possible changes that needs to be done on the actual website and how SiteSeeker needs to be configured. The feasibility study should also lead to a decision about the technical platform, which is discussed in the next paragraph.
SiteSeeker can communicate with your website in various ways. Depending on the CMS in use, and the requirements for the search function in general, there are different technical solutions that can meet your organisation's needs.
If you are using EPiServer or SiteVision as CMS, there are dedicated integration modules where the search page is handled like any other page on the website. These modules are generally the best option for these tools. Most customisation that needs to be done can be performed in the module, and it is often less complicated and more productive to build on an existing module than to start from scratch.
SiteSeeker also comes with a native interface that you can modify directly through SiteSeeker Admin. This interface is called the template search page and is partly modifiable. More comprehensive graphical changes and specifically search page behaviour is harder to achieve through this interface. In addition, to use this interface, the SiteSeeker server needs to be connected to the internet which is always the case if you are running SiteSeeker Remote. However, with regards to the Appliance service, it depends on your server settings.
Finding design patterns
Here is a list of useful design patterns for SiteSeeker. Depending on the needs that have been identified during the feasibility study and possible limitations that exists in the technology platform, these patterns can be very useful when creating the interaction and design concepts for the search page.
Segmented results page
A segmented results page may be used when there is a need for displaying different types of results in a single interface. Each segment will typically show a certain category or type of hits. Do not use segmentation when search results types are similar, since segmenting in a sense will disrupt the organic ranking of results.
Structured search may be used for searching in structured information, where it is important to sort, filter and compare information. To achieve this in SiteSeeker, you would tag pages with metadata which is then indexed. For comparing and sorting, you specify data types for metadata, e.g. numbers, strings and dates.
SiteSeeker can deliver content for navigation and for use in lists. For example, you can create a faceted navigation that lets the user drill down into large content collections. The benefits of having the search engine provide these lists are that updates are automatic and the lists will be fully dynamic, and additionally they can display content from another website. When new pages are added they will be shown in all relevant lists.
Compared to an ordinary list (e.g. a news list) it is easy to add filtering or faceting to a search driven list.
Start with a simple search page. The experiences and the data you derive from that project will guide you to which functions and methods that will be useful on a bigger scale.
Our solution specialists can also be of great help when it comes to specifying requirements and as support during the implementation of SiteSeeker for your website.