A new University Web Search is coming
The University Web Search is changing on 22 March. It will feature new ways to search content and access results, including autosuggestions and a customised output for profile pages.
A fundamental component of the central web services, web search was powered by a free Google solution before switching to a paid solution, again by Google, in 2012 to address the EU cookie legislation.
In 2017, a procurement exercise resulted in assigning Funnelback with the contract to supply the required infrastructure for this service.
Enhancements for making search easier
The new central web search will be replacing the current solution on 22 March. Existing features will not be removed or change massively. This includes the ability to search for results within a specific website (the “Just This Website” tab) and sorting results by relevance or latest updated. Further enhancements will improve the search experience:
- A new filter to search within available programmes, fed from the degree finder pages.
- The capability of autosuggesting search terms when typing more than two characters.
- Customised output for specific content types, like profiles and videos.
The existing phone and student email search will switch from the current legacy source to make use of more sophisticated, and fit for purpose, services. However, this change is anticipated to delay their delivery, which will follow a few weeks after the deployment of the main search facility. In the meantime, proper guidance for search users will help in finding this information.
Raise your profile
One of the initial benefits of using the new search facility will be to achieve better promotion of University profiles. A new customised look and feel for profile search results and how contact details are displayed will be available.
Our recommendation for all University staff who would like their contact details to be easily found is to create an EdWeb profile page. This is very easy to do (and EdWeb training is not required) by following the appropriate guidance. Alternatively, you can email our support team with any UUNs for staff members you need to create profiles for.
Opportunities for better content management
This change will not only bring changes to the existing search delivery but is a first step to influence the future of content management in the University.
Services that use formal content structures will benefit in a lot of ways:
- Data and content can be consumed directly from the source, using feeds or APIs, without a need to ‘scrape’ public content.
- Indexed data and content can be grouped in relevant collections, by source or semantically.
- Creation of bespoke data types with relevant look and feel, and call to actions will be possible (for example playable videos or bookable events).
- More sophisticated search filters (for example, faceted search based on organisational hierarchy or study topics).
- Customised search result output feeds to meet more sophisticated needs (for example, results relevant to a school or research interest).
The next step after deploying the new search facility will be to further analyse the usage and start informing a service road map. Please get in contact, either personally, or in our support email with your ideas of how to further improve central web search.