Chapter 6. Searching Systems

Searching and Your Web Site

The preceding three chapters were intended to help you create the best browsing system possible for your web site. This chapter describes when to use a search engine with your site and demonstrates techniques that will make searching work best for it.

Throughout this chapter, we use examples of searching systems from major sites which allow you to search the entire Web, as well as site-specific search engines. Although these Web-wide tools are different in that they index a much broader collection of content than your search system will, it is nonetheless very useful to study them. Of all searching systems, none has undergone the testing, usage, and investment that Web-wide search tools have, so why not benefit from their research?

When Not To Make Your Site Searchable

Before we delve into searching systems, we need to make a point: think twice before you make your site searchable.

What? What’s the point of having a web site if people can’t find information in it?

Your site should of course support the finding of its information. But don’t assume a search engine alone will satisfy all users’ information needs. While many users want to search a site, some just want to browse it.

Also, does your site have enough content to merit the use of a search engine? How much is enough? It’s hard to say. It could be five resources or fifty; no specific number serves as a threshold. Perhaps a site with five long, dense documents deserves ...

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