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What is Faceted Search?

November 13, 2018
What is Faceted Search?

Faceted search is a powerful feature in modern search engines that makes it easy for users to find exactly what they need. This technology is a great feature for e-commerce site searches and other applications where it’s important to provide outside users with a streamlined search experience that can deliver customized results.

How Does Faceted Search Work?

Faceted search is based on structured data. Through guided navigation, searchers can use facets (or filters) to refine their queries. These facets are sets of independent attributes determined by the administrator to help classify the entries found within a searchable collection. This is extremely beneficial, especially compared to a more rigid classification scheme like a taxonomy that corresponds to only a single top-level attribute.

Faceted search vs. single taxonomies

While single taxonomies force users to choose a top-level group, faceted classification gives searchers a more flexible approach to finding specific items. For example, a single taxonomy for a dog food company might choose a top-level attribute that corresponds to either the type of dog food (dry, wet, etc.) or the type of dog (small dogs, big dogs, senior dogs, etc.), but not both. That means a taxonomy based on types of dog foods will still force a user to sift through results for all types of dogs without narrowing down the selections even further.

Faceted search can mark these search attributes as first-class facets. Users are now able to use a variety of filters to refine searches, whether these queries involve the type of dog food, type of dog, size of product, price, or any other factor that could narrow down a search. These stackable filters offer results that are much more relevant to a user with a highly-specific need instead of overwhelming them with too many unrelated products.

Is faceted search the right fit?

When dealing with a significant amount of possible search results (whether from a database, on a website or across multiple data sources), adding faceted search can help a user find what they’re looking for quicker. It may not be the right choice for smaller data sets.

On e-commerce sites, faceted navigation can help a user search for a product and quickly narrow down what they’re looking for.

Implementing faceted search

When implementing faceted search, it’s important to make sure the number of facets shown to the searcher is appropriate. Too few can be limiting in how specific a user can narrow down their search results, however too many facets can present a user with too many choices and not enough results within each facet category.

Before you add faceted search to your application, you’ll want to consider how you’ll be identifying and classifying the facets themselves. Within a large data set, what are the categories, filters, or “facets” that can help narrow down search results? For enterprise applications, this may start with file type (document, image, etc.) For an e-commerce site, this might mirror the ways that product would be organized in-store (category, color, size. etc.).

Faceted Site Search for Your Business

Thunderstone’s Parametric Search Appliance provides you with a highly customizable e-commerce site search system with faceted search, autocomplete and other capabilities that help you deliver relevant results to your users.

Parametric search (also called attribute-enhanced search) helps users narrow down their field of search to increase the chances of finding relevant information. It provides context to results that are based on unstructured information, and it allows the administrator or user to sort results in the most meaningful way.

Request a free trial of today to test out Thunderstone’s enterprise search products for yourself or contact us to talk to a Thunderstone expert about your organization’s search needs.

Integrating Advanced Search on your Website

September 20, 2017
Integrating Advanced Search on your Website

Is your search solution actually doing its job? Some common problems caused by inadequate search software includes:

  • Search results aren’t showing in the right order of importance or value
  • Search results can’t show mixed content like products, blog content and page content
  • Search results don’t have the appearance you’d like them to have

So why would you like a better search solution? It helps educate you users with the right information. It directs them towards products that they want to buy. It ultimately provides a better user experience for them. With simple search solutions like Google’s soon-to-be-discontinued Google Site Search, there is very limited customization that you can make to deliver the best results to your users. The solution to this challenge is implemented a smarter, more customizable custom search appliance on your website.

Sound complicated? It’s actually easier than you think when you have an expert like Thunderstone walking you through the process. Based on our 30-plus years of experience with search solutions, the typical steps involved with integrating an advanced search appliance within your website are:

Identify What Should Be Included in Search Results

The benefit of a more advanced search box like Thunderstone’s Search Appliance is that you’re able to customize what should be indexed in search results. Thus, you can include things like

  • page content
  • blog posts
  • products
  • documentation pages
  • media like images and videos
  • FAQ’s
  • data from other database sources

Determine Search Results Appearance

Consider how you’d like the search results to appear to users. With a basic website search engine, results are pulled purely by keyword relevancy, and the results can’t be styled. With an advanced website search engine like Thunderstone’s Search Appliance, search results can be customized in terms of order and design of appearance.

Website Search Results Customization

For websites that feature multiple types of content, multiple subdomains, e-commerce and many other unique website setups, basic website search is not ideal. Some examples of customizations that you may want to make to search results include:

  • Selecting only specific pages or types of content/data that you would like to be indexed and shown to users
  • Ranking pages based on their importance to your organization, and their relevancy to the user
  • Sorting and separating different pieces of content in search rankings
  • Leveraging a thesaurus function to group similar results together

Website Search Results Design

Once again, with a basic website search engine, the appearance of the search results are going to likely include the title of the page, a short description, and potentially an image. But for more advanced websites, this can be very limiting in delivering the right results to the user. Customizing search results design can be useful when:

  • Delivering product or e-commerce results to the user, including images, pricing, and product options
  • Showing search results for media, including photos and videos
  • Showing more in-depth documentation that may include technical files, publish dates, etc.
  • Delivering autocomplete results in a search box for a better user experience

Embed a Search Box on Your Site

Embedding a search box on your website is simple for any web designer or developer to achieve. Whether you have an existing search box that needs to be replaced, or need to integrate a brand-new search box within your site, Thunderstone’s implementation is simple.

When it comes to search box design considerations, UX Planet has a few recommendations:

  • Display the search field prominently, including on mobile devices
  • Provide a button for the search box rather than an icon that may be confusing
  • Put the search box on every page
  • Put the search box where users expect to find it, typically in the top righthand corner of the page
  • Size the search box appropriately, usually allowing at least 27 characters of text input

Thunderstone for Better Site Search

The Thunderstone Search Appliance is a web indexing device that allows a web site administrator to provide a high quality search results for a number of different file types with a customized search results appearance. If your current website search engine isn’t delivering the results you want (or your users need), then check out Thunderstone’s Search Appliance, or contact us today for a demo.

What the Engineering Industry Needs to Consider When Investing in an Enterprise Search Solution?

September 6, 2017
What the Engineering Industry Needs to Consider When Investing in an Enterprise Search Solution?

As an engineering firm grows, it’s critical that it has a good internal search solution. At first, it’s easy to find information from one of a dozen or so projects. Over time, you gain more projects, which can lead to hundreds of thousands of highly technical files within a basic file storage structure. That’s why it’s critical that engineering firms find a search solution that is designed to address the issues that complicate the search process and provide the right results for their users.

Specific Search Solution Issues for Engineering Firms

Engineering firms face a few main challenges when it comes to search solutions. This includes the variety of searches engineers can make, as well as the overall technical nature of the business.

There are a variety of reasons why engineers would use the search function on their site. They could be looking for specific information from one of hundred, or even, thousands, of documents. They may just need some general background research on a certain field or application. They might also just be looking for a project example to use as a template or as guidance for putting a new document together.

Another problem is that in engineering, everything can be technical. These engineering documents can contain extremely detailed information and unique jargon that can create issues for an inadequate search solution. The files used at an engineering firm can go beyond the usual text files and PDFs, making it necessary for search solutions to parse through CAD files and other specific document types. In addition to the technical nature of the files and vocabulary, a search solution will also have to work with the engineering company’s internal conventions for file names and directories.

Search Appliance Solutions for Engineers

Fortunately for engineers, Thunderstone can engineer a search solution that addresses their specific issues. This starts with addressing a few critical details.

To start, a search solution for an engineering firm should utilize file format plugins for unique document types. This can help the search identify unique design files and other special items that other businesses may not rely on for their work. With these special document types, it’s also important that a search solution can use the firm’s directory structure to help with the overall search.

Due to the technical jargon in engineering, a good search solution should also be able to parse through the actual language that engineers use. The addition of a thesaurus feature helps an engineering firm’s search software find the right files based on terms that employees use, while a synonym system allows the search solution to display the right results based on the user’s intent, even if they don’t quite use the exact right terms found in the document.

One great solution for engineering firms is Thunderstone’s Parametric Search Appliance. This solution can address all the previously mentioned issues and help your results display the most relevant authors, projects, and documents that apply to your user’s search. Parametric search is also flexible, powerful, and easy to use, allowing us to customize the solution to optimize it for your setup.

We work with you to find the search solution you need. Contact us online or give us a call at 216-820-2200 to start our three-step head start program to get a customized search solution that truly fits your needs.

What the Education Industry Needs to Consider When Investing in an Enterprise Search Solution

August 23, 2017
What the Education Industry Needs to Consider When Investing in an Enterprise Search Solution

It can be difficult to find the right search solution for a college, university, or other educational institution so that users can gather the information they need to succeed. The right search solution affects multiple types of users, including current students, prospective students, their parents, and anyone who works at the affected institution, so it’s critical to find a search option that can cater to all these parties.

Specific Search Solution Issues for Educational Institutions

Thanks to a wide range of users, educational institutions can amass a hodge-podge of different sites. These can include main “marketing” sites, individual department sites, and student/faculty pages. This assortment of sites with different functions and capabilities can prove problematic for search functions.

Another issue is that these sites can be targeted to different types of users. The marketing site can be directed toward prospective students and their parents. Student and faculty pages may be designed for use of a group of people with individual logins. Each one of these sites need to provide its users with results that match their intent. For example, a “marketing” site should help users find information on the school itself, whereas an internal login for the school library’s site should returns results for documents, books, and other files in the library’s database.

Along with the wide variety of sites, there’s also the possibility that different departments might run their own sites. This means that the institution needs a search solution that is powerful enough to handle many files, as well as flexible enough to match the needs of each different department and its users.

Search Appliance Solutions for College and University Sites

With the wide range of potential sites and users, a high-performance search solution that can allow multiple administrative users is in order. In this setup, these users can be delegated permissions on specific areas of the index or specific settings. For example, a College of Medicine might administer its own search while still feeding results into the main University Search. There could also be a situation where one user may be responsible for the look and feel of a search while somebody else oversees the actual crawling of the search.

The range of potential sites and audiences can also be addressed with the ability to promote particular pages for specific searches, including custom messages in the search results page. For example, a search for “Admissions” could link to the appropriate page with a specific message with it, or a search for the sports team could show the latest scores or schedule. That will provide each audience with customized results that can improve their overall search experience.

If you need powerful customizable search solutions for your school, Thunderstone can help. High-performance solutions like our parametric search appliance or the highly-customizable Webinator web index and retrieval software can help your users find what they need, no matter which one of your sites they’re using. Contact us online or give us a call at 216-820-2200 to start the process of getting a customized search solution that’s built for your institution’s needs.

The Benefits of a Custom Search Engine Tool

October 7, 2015
The Benefits of a Custom Search Engine Tool

Not all websites search needs are the same. A custom solution may be needed to handle your searching needs. Thunderstone's TEXIS can provide you with a full text search engine that will give you the power you need to handle your internal searches.

What Exactly is TEXIS?

TEXIS is a fully-integrated full text search engine. That makes TEXIS a flexible option that works with numerous integrated applications, including:

  • message profiling and handling
  • image library management
  • help-desk support
  • online news retrieval
  • business intelligence
  • research libraries
  • litigation support
  • Internet retail operations

TEXIS is powerful search engine option that can handle 10,000 records and more with an English language vocabulary of 250,000 words, plus phrase concept associations for natural language queries. In fact, TEXIS is the core technology for our other products, as it encompasses database and search engine capabilities.

What Makes it Different from Other Search Engines?

The key for TEXIS is versatility and customization. TEXIS isn't limited to website or fileserver searches; it can be tailored to do even more, giving you an option that be customized to be as powerful as you need it to be. TEXIS is the only search engine with a Structured Query Language configuration. This provides you with added benefits and advantages when it comes to complicated search requirements.

Fully-Integrated Full Text Search Engines from Thunderstone

Some of our customers use TEXIS as a search engine, others need it as an e-commerce system. Our TEXIS technology can be customized to fit your needs, so don't be afraid to tell us what you need and we'll be happy to work with you.Contact us online or give us a call at 216-820-2200 for more information on how TEXIS from Thunderstone can benefit you.