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Case Study: Parametric Search Appliance Helps Chagrin Valley Soap & Salve Prioritize Product Results

October 11, 2017
Case Study: Parametric Search Appliance Helps Chagrin Valley Soap & Salve Prioritize Product Results

Who We Helped

Chagrin Valley Soap & Salve, a family-owned manufacturer of all-natural soaps, shampoo bars, and skin care products in Northeast Ohio. While Chagrin Valley products can be found in several stores in Ohio, most people order their products online and have them shipped to their homes.

Their Challenge

Chagrin Valley was facing a pair of big changes. One, they were in the midst of a new website redesign. Two, the old Chagrin Valley site used Google Site Search, so they needed to find a replacement option since the company did not want to have ads for competitors’ products displayed on their search feed. This new search solution needed to serve their specific needs so that their new website had a strong search function for all their online customers.

One of Chagrin Valley’s challenges is that they have both a lot of product pages and educational pages on their site. In the past, Chagrin Valley customers would complain that some searches would not display the products they were searching for, making it difficult for users to buy what they wanted. However, both products and educational posts were very important to Chagrin Valley, so they needed a solution that would ensure that searches would always populate appropriate products in addition to blog posts and other pages.

Another key element of the project is that the new search solution had to be compatible with Umbraco, Chagrin Valley’s content management system for their new site. Chagrin Valley had looked for some options but were having trouble finding a solution that would integrate seamlessly with Umbraco.

Image of a Chagrin Valley search result page powered by Thunderstone’s Parametric Search Appliance.

Our Solution

Since both products and educational pages were important to Chagrin Valley, Thunderstone configured its Parametric Search Appliance so there were two sets of search results for every query.

If a user searched for a product like adzuki bean soap or an issue like dry skin, the first listings he or she would see would be products most closely related to that search. However, Thunderstone added a second results field on the same page. This second bucket of search results is located below products and displays any related blog posts and other types pages related to the subject.

Chagrin Valley customers had also become accustomed to seeing images of each product in the search results, and the Thunderstone Parametric Search Appliance ensures that each result is displayed with an image and a description of each product, allowing users to find exactly which products they’re looking for.

Image of the other pages bucket powered by Thunderstone Parametric Search Appliance.

What Happened

Thunderstone worked with Chagrin Valley to set up their search solution in time for the launch of their new website. This particular project only took a couple of days to set up, as the Parametric Search Appliance easily integrated with Chagrin Valley’s Umbraco CMS. So far, customers have been able to easily find what they need on the new site through the search function.

Chagrin Valley is just one of many businesses who have benefited from Thunderstone search solutions. Learn more about our search engine software and appliances and contact us today to talk to one of our experts about Thunderstone can help you.

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 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.