We recommend that you try to raise questions below in the different project phases. And again, there are several other areas that are just as important as the technology for the end result.
What overall impact goals will the search function support in the business? In Chapter 1, we show how you build a business case around the search for e-commerce, web and intranets. Let those objectives guide you through all the decisions going forward. And be sure to anchor the strategy with all who have influence over the project. And be sure to get enough resources to carry out an adequate feasibility study.
2) Feasibility study
We recommend that you chart the following four main areas, before you start sketching out the actual solution with wireframes, technical specs, etc. or make investment calculations.
What information needs to be made searchable in order to achieve impact goals? Where is it – aggregated or dispersed on different websites, records and systems? And in what format is it? Does it need to be “washed” or labeled with additional metadata before it is indexed in order to be searchable the way you want? And what does the information lifecycle look like, such as how do you notice what information is expired and should be removed? A central question is whether you can reduce the amount of information? The less information you need to manage in order to achieve the objectives, the easier it becomes.
What are your technical conditions? Which export opportunities exist for the information to the indexing service? Can a web spider be used? How do the URLs work with the content? How fast can data be indexed? Which search engine technology supports the features you want?
What part of the organization works with the information? Who has the authority to make decisions on important issues, such as what metadata should be used, when it is published / unpublished, and the like? Do you have anyone responsible for the search engine? What report and analysis tools do you have? Read more in chapter 5.
Who are the people who will search and what do you expect their search behaviors to be? What type of questions will they want answered? What tools and features do they need to meet their tasks? Read more in chapter 4.
3) The implementation
The implementation depends of course very much on the scale of your project, but as a general guideline it is very good to let the site search project run side by side with a larger upgrade or change of CMS tool. One mistake often made is to start with the site search project to late.
4) Launch and continuous optimization
You have now launched, and the question now is whether you reach your impact goals? It is possible that they are met directly, but the search engine has in all likelihood not reached its full potential yet. Now begins the excitement of waiting to get the first statistics on how well the search engine works and what users have problems with.
In our projects we make it clear to the customer that the search project is to create the conditions and tools to get a really good search function, but that now the patient work of optimizing content based on user’s search and click behavior starts.