Intranet Connections is happy to announce our upcoming release, Super Search (Version 13.0)! As the Product Manager, I wanted to focus this week’s blog on the reasoning behind reinventing the intranet search experience and the lessons learned. As we defined what Super Search would entail the questions below popped up that I felt were good insights into how/why we focused on on improving Enterprise Search:
“Why focus this release on intranet search?”
We listen very closely to what our existing customers have to say, and for our customers who have been on our product a long time, search was becoming frustrating for their users.
At the start of an intranet, at any organization, the intranet is lean and mean. It contains only the most relevant documents, menus are well laid out, and staff are well-trained. Over time however, unless an intranet administrator and content owners are vigilant, content becomes out-of-date, menus grow stale and do not reflect the new content and new employees are not trained on how to use their intranet software.
While the intranet currently contains many features to help customers manage their information, such as automatic document archiving, mega menus, and a built-in tutorial system for new users, the reality is many of our customers run fairly lean, and don’t have a full-time intranet administrator. As the content in the intranet grows and evolves, users must turn to search more often. Which meant the use cases for search have expanded and so have our customers’ needs.
“How was intranet search redesigned?”
We took a long, hard look at how the average user actually uses intranet search, then redesigned both the search engine and user interface to return what users are looking for as fast as possible. Talking with customers lead to two key insights; first, frustration with search comes from time pressure. Intranet search is different from internet search, because the user is looking for a specific piece of information to accomplish a work-related task. This is normally either a document ( policy, procedure, etc.), a form they need to fill out, or contact information.
The second insight we learned from customers is the majority of users don’t use and will likely never use more advanced search features like facets, Boolean logic, etc. The new search is geared around how people actually use search:
- Enter one or more search terms
- Scan the first one or two pages of results for a match
- If close, add an additional search term to refine, if not, try new search terms
- Repeat until match is found
In hindsight, this seems obvious, but being cognizant of this behavior was critical in making the new search as user-friendly as possible:
- Advanced options are hidden by default
- Adding additional search terms always returns fewer, not more results
- Results are displayed in a format that is very quick to scan
Based on the new search engine, there were a number of technically advanced options we could have exposed to the end user, but this would have made the experience more complicated. One quote came to mind during the design phase:
“Perfection is achieved not when there is nothing more to add, but when there is nothing left to take away.”
Antoine de Saint-Exupery, 1939
“What features can existing customers look forward to?”
The first thing customers will notice is the completely redesigned user interface. It is really geared towards making search simple and fast as possible for the average user. We also introduced “one-click filtering”. If a user knows they are looking for a document, a form, or a person, they have the option to filter their results with a single click. This automatically removes search results that aren’t in the specified category.
More advanced search options are available for power users, but are hidden by default. These users can choose to filter their results by specific sites, application, modified date, author, or tags.
We also introduced the content of feature cards. Most of the time, users can determine if a search result is what they are looking for by the title, category, or short description. However, if there are multiple documents that are similar, a little bit more information may be necessary. Instead of requiring the user to click into the item to view more details, and navigate away from search, we introduced the concept of a feature card. Additional summary information for a search result can be displayed within the search screen, preventing the need to jump back and forth from search and content.
Feature cards are great when users are looking up contact information. They can grab a user’s phone extension, email address, or title right from the search page.
Get Super Search Now
We are very excited for the release of Super Search and hope you are too! We are also currently looking for beta customers. If you are interested in becoming a beta customer, or want to find out more about Super Search, please leave a comment below.