Question: What are your thoughts about searching for content on the Public Lab website?

Bronwen is asking a question about general
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by Bronwen | January 15, 2019 23:28 | #18125

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We're planning to do some work to evaluate and update our website search function, and we'd be interested to hear any feedback you have to share.

Generally, we report issues with searches (such as missing pages, etc) on GitHub (a how-to can be found here), but in this case we're interested in hearing a little more about your personal experiences searching and navigating the site. What works well for you? What do you find frustrating? Are there things that you wish the search box could do that it doesn't already do?

We've included a few questions/prompts below, but feel free to weigh in on anything else (search related) that you'd like to share.

  • How predictable is the search function (do you usually get expected results the first time?)
  • What kind of information are you usually looking for when you search the website?
  • Search currently has a few different options-- have you used these to narrow or fine-tune a search?
  • How frequently do you search for something and hit a dead end, or come up with unexpected results? What was your search term, and what did you expect to see?
  • How do you usually navigate to pages you're looking for (search, links in email announcements, search results from outside search engines, like Google)
  • Have you ever made a suggestion for a search improvement on GitHub? What happened?
  • Do you use tags to browse content? Do you add tags to your own posts
  • BONUS- are there sites (not search engines like Google) you can point at as examples of sites that do a great job with their search function? (and can you describe what you like about them?)

Feel free to include screenshots, search terms you frequently use, or anything else that can help us understand your process.


To your very first question, "How predictable is the search function (do you usually get expected results the first time?)" i have anecdotally heard many reports of this, however the behavior is not repeatable by the person who reported it or by others. My feeling on Search is that it is too complex to debug the Typeahead Search at the same time as debugging the Search Results Page. For this reason, I wish to temporarily disable Typeahead.

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