2015 Apr 28

Peter Roesler’s article on Inc.com, entitled “Improving Filtering Options Can Boost Ecommerce Sales,” is a good read on how good search filters can have a direct impact on sales in the land of e-commerce. The concept is simple: if your users can more easily navigate to the products they seek, the more likely you are to convert them to a sale.

But search filters aren’t just important to e-commerce websites. Here at Industrial, for years we’ve worked with organizations that have mountains of content: articles, reports, publications, and so on. Historically, a key focus for websites that are information-rich has been information architecture (IA): how do we structure the content to allow the user to most easily navigate to it.

We love IA research here at Industrial: it’s a standard piece of the puzzle as we map out the most effective solution design for any large-scale website deployment. But increasingly, the focus has been on how to build and structure the best possible on-site search to allow users to quickly get to the information they need, without a long navigation path.

Faceted search is the answer.

A recent example of success with a faceted search model is the Canadian Agency for Drugs and Technologies in Health. Industrial has worked extensively with this organization (a key player in the Canadian healthcare system), to deploy a new Drupal-powered website.

The main goal of the project? Get users directly to the information they seek with as few steps as possible. With thousands of content records on the website, the answer was to enable a powerful search and indexing platform.

With Drupal as the core Content Management System (CMS) powering the website, the Industrial technical team extended the search and filtering capabilities using theElasticsearch indexing engine. Combined with Drupal, Elasticsearch enabled a faceted search system for narrowing search results.

CADTH website search screen shot

Faceted search is now the backbone of the CADTH website. Users can enter a keyword or phrase, get the fire hose of results, then (with lightning-fast results) narrow their search by selecting different facets (categories).

If you have an information rich website, whether products, articles, reports, or databases, a powerful on-site search should be a key part of your deployment strategy.

In the coming weeks, stay tuned for more from Industrial on the technical strategy behind faceted search deployments.