Search usability enhancements

Following on from the search functionality enhancements to provide more efficient search indexing on CloudEngine, we’ve spent some time improving the interface and usability of the search results interface.

As increasing amount of content has been added to Cloudworks, certain search parameters are now returning many results, for example, searching for ‘learning’ on the live site returns over 2000 clouds, 300 cloudscapes and 600 users. All of these results were being presented on one page over two columns. Not only was this creating very large pages for users to scroll through, the results for user pages were appearing in the second column somewhere down the page following the cloudscape results.

Original search results interface

Original search results interface

This was clearly becoming unwieldy so we have made some changes to improve the search interface and usability. Here is a summary of the changes that have been made:

  • the results for clouds, cloudscapes and users have been split in to three separate tabs. This allows results with long titles to span the width of the page rather then split over several lines with the two column layout.
  • the total number of results is shown above the results area.
  • the number of results for clouds, cloudscapes and users is shown at the top of each tab.
  • each result has a percentage score which is the relevance of the result to the top result (which is usually scored 100%).
  • On each tab, results are paginated, with 15 results per page (customisable).
  • 200 results are retrieved with the search and are actually hidden from view but can be quickly displayed by using a link under the result set on each tab.
  • results are now presented in an ordered list, ordered by relevance in each tab, so the user can more clearly see the position of a search result within a set of results.
  • there is a link on each tab to show the full set of results for a clouds, cloudscapes and users (similar to the original search).
  • for a screen resolution of 1280 x 1024, search results usually fit on one page without needing to scroll.

Here is a screenshot of a search for ‘learning’ with the new interface:

New seach results user interface

New seach results user interface

We hope these changes make the search functionality on CloudEngine more usable and user-friendly. We hope to put these changes live on Cloudworks early during the week commencing 30th May 2011.

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