You may have noticed that tiny search fields previously tucked away in the corner are now showcased prominently in the main navigation of modern websites. Whether it's a big magnifying glass or similar large search field, it's clear that Site Search has come to the forefront of web design.
Websites previously relied on a standard navigation system to show ALL sections of the site at once. Contemporary sites are taking a different approach by showcasing only the most important buckets of content in the main navigation, leaving subordinate sections to footer or interior page navigations.
This change occurred for a few different reasons:
1. Widespread mobile/tablet device browsing lends itself to a continuous-scroll user experience via longer web pages, shifting the focus from a single navigation point to several.
2. Mobile/tablet adoption has also led to new responsive layouts that feature search as a primary means of navigation.
3. Website analytics provide details on the most widely used portions of a website, which now includes search.
4. Everyday web users are more sophisticated than ever before and value browsing efficiency. Search is often the quickest way to find what you are looking for on a large-scale website.
A well-architected advanced Site Search is even faster to find what you're looking for. Major advancements in search technologies over the years have allowed web developers to hone in on search queries and refine search results better than ever.
Site Search was previously often focused on:
2. content and keywords contained in the webpage
Users can now enhance their experience by accessing hordes of other data, and more importantly that data's relationship to other associated data.
Leveraging Related Content
Modern Content Management Systems, like RubensteinTech's RubyContent and RubyLaw® CMS and RubyLaw 360° data relationship module, provide ways to link different data together. For law firms, RubyLaw CMS admins can easily relate a lawyer to a practice area, a publication, an office, and various other data types. When a user searches for that lawyer on the public website, they'll receive a link to their bio as well as links to their related practices, publications, office(s), etc. To take this a step further, the 360° data is also reciprocal so that when a practice is searched for, you'll receive a list of lawyers, publications, and office(s) in the results; likewise for other searches and other related data.
We've devised a method to show the most relevant matches first, via RubensteinTech's Primary (Highest Score), Secondary (Mid Score, Related), and Tertiary (Low Score, meta and keywords) matching system. The Site Search is programmed to run through data attributes in priority order and provide rank results accordingly.
To keep with the above example, we'll continue with lawyer search:
Lawyer Primary Match
• Lawyer Name
Lawyer Secondary (RubyLaw 360°) Match
• Practice Name
• Blog Post Title
• Matter Name
Lawyer Tertiary Match
• Primary Page Content
• Meta Keywords
This also works for other data types as well (e.g practices, publications, offices, etc). In addition to accessing the relationships for a single search term (e.g. Lawyer name), the single site search field also allows the possibility for mixed search terms (e.g. "white collar boston harvard").
Where these results were formerly shown as a long list of page links with brief descriptions (i.e google style), we're now seeing modern search results pages broken down by data type ( e.g. Lawyer results, then Practice results, then Publication results, etc).
Further Site Search refinements also allow for site- or firm-specific Synonyms, as users in other countries (UK, etc) may have different spellings/terms for words, for example:
• lawyer: barrister, solicitor
• practice: practise, service, etc.
• labor: labour, employment, etc.
We encourage you to perform a search on the Winston & Strawn website, which uses RubyLaw's sophisticated search capabilities to implement much of the advanced search logic defined above. The search is executed in milliseconds, providing users a fast and efficient means of finding just what they're looking for (and perhaps some additional content they didn't know they wanted) immediately.
The above search configuration can be customized for each firm to account for their unique data and relationships. A well executed Site Search coupled with intelligent data relationships will provide your users with the content they want and the related content you want them to see.