One of the strategic recommendations we’ve heard back from White Whale is that our search interface can be improved by incorporating search results from multiple search sources, rather than just the GSA’s internal index. Additionally, they’ve recommended that we use Google.com’s search results scoped to our site, rather than the on-campus tool. Joe Antonioli asked me to spend some time this week building out a rough prototype of how this system could work. The first version of the prototype is available (on-campus or via VPN only) at: http://chisel.middlebury.edu/search/
Please try out this prototype and let me know how it could be improved. Don’t worry about the look-and-feel right now since those changes will be delivered by White Whale as part of the design specification. Instead, try some different searches, examine the results, and think of things the service could do to make the results more understandable to you. If the results of your search are way off-base for the search terms you used, let me know about that too. And, of course, this is such a rough prototype that there are bound to be bugs, which I’d be happy to fix.
Here are some things I already know (but if you agree or disagree, let me know):
- The Directory search is *really* slow. This is because we’re doing a simple search, rather than the advanced search you see on the general Directory interface. I don’t know if you’re searching for a name, a phone number, or a department, so I search all the fields for all the terms. As you might imagine, this isn’t a very fast search algorithm. What might we do to improve this?
- I want to extend this to include other search sources. GO is the next up, but it doesn’t have a search interface yet, so I have to write that before I can include it here. What other services might we include in this search interface?
You can comment on this at my blog in the comments field for this entry (http://chisel.middlebury.edu/wordpress/imcbride/2009/06/02/new-search-interfacenew-search-interface/) or by emailing me directly. I’d prefer comments to be posted to the blog so that we can have a public discussion about this, but I’ll respect the confidence of anyone who would prefer not to have their thoughts published.