Search Process

We hereby inaugurate part of solr.pl which is not related to a particular search engine but rather to the development and functioning of websites related to search.

Do you ever wondered what causes the search engine, on the site, to be considered good ? To answer this question we should consider how a typical process of finding desired information by the customer look like, and is there such a thing as a typical process.

In projects I took part in the model that worked out well looked like this:

  • search
  • query redefinition
  • filtering
  • sorting
  • results viewing

Not all of these phases must occur, their order is sometimes different, sometimes the phases will occur repeatedly. Also, depending on the product, the available data and their quantities, not all of them must be shared by the system.

1. Search


Here, the user, can show his greatest invention by typing the search phrase in the box (or multiple fields). And it is also a critical moment in which new users often decide: stay or find another, better service. What usually draw our attention to:

  • Readability and meaningfulness of the search results and the soundness of the displayed information – user goal is to find a specific item or group of items that meet search criteria (often vague and murky). He must therefore have the opportunity to reject those elements which do not fit for some¬† reason.¬† But the lack of basic information is a mistake (for example service with housing sales offers, which does not show size and location of the property).
  • Number of results found – if results is not enough, it may suggest shop limited assortment
  • Adherence of the search results to the search terms – it may suggest that the company sell only accessories if on the first page of the search results for the phrase “notebook” user will see only notebook cases.
  • The possibility of navigation and ease of choice – if there are many search results, leaving the user with only change of query possibility and busy punching through the results page is not a good idea.

2. Query Redefinition

Depending on the search results obtained, usually from the first impression of the quality of these results, the user may choose to repeat the search. The more phases of the redefinition, the worse impression of the client and a higher chance to leave the store. Especially if the user typed in his opinion, a very general phrase, and did not get any results.

3. Filtering


The type of returned results is alright, the question now is how the user can limit result number to those that are particularly interesting (or reject these less interesting). For this purpose, You enable further navigation based on filters. Here we usually draw our attention to:

  • Ease of adding and removing the filter – assuming that the user have only a general idea of what she or he is looking for, You should expect that the search criteria will change many times – it is unacceptable that the only way to return to previous filtered results is “back” button in web browser or new search.
  • Filter dependent on search type – when looking for a new computer user is interested in another set of parameters then when selecting a book. Although this sounds obvious, too often we can find situation where changes in product range does not involve changes in the definition of filters, or set of filters is imposed “from above”. As a result, there are options like “the color of the tires”.
  • Give numbers specifying the number of results you apply a filter to – undervalued functionality, but allows the user to select the optimal filtering: if the user wants to have a built-in camera in the notebook, the filter “With built-in camera (3)” at once suggests that the choice of color will be less important.

4. Sorting


This allows the customer to deal with viewing the results in the most convenient sequence (for example, from lower-priced products). In practice, the number of options are very limited, for example the idea of sorting by characteristics of the product may conflict with filtering.

5. Browse Results

In these phase user is being acquainted with the search results. From the perspective of the search is quite a boring topic :) However it is worth remembering to make convenient return to the list of results: common mistake is an automatic return to the first page of results, or forcing the user to scroll through result pages in search of last viewed item.

This post is also available in: Polish

This entry was posted on Monday, August 9th, 2010 at 18:12 and is filed under Search. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.