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Social Intranet Best Practices – Provide Users With An Advanced Search Option

Sean R. Nicholson

Sean R. Nicholson

Searchability is key in allowing your users to find content on your Intranet. While most users are happy with conducting a simple keyword search using a single text box, an advanced search feature allows users to find information and find it faster.

In typical Intranet search results, users are presented with content and documents that contain the keyword or keyphrase they have entered. What’s often not present is the context in which the information is stored. For example, suppose that the user searched for the phrase “key performance indicators”. Likely, they’d receive a lot of content and documents in their results, but the results may not necessarily specify whether the results are KPIs for the Sales department, IT, Marketing or another department.  As a result, the user spends time sifting through the information to find the specific content they are seeking.

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By leveraging advanced search functionality, Intranet Administrators can provide their users with the ability to refine their search sources prior to ever clicking the “Search” button. Maybe the user is only interested in the PKIs that are located within the IT departmental content and are stored in PowerPoint documents. By using advanced search, this type of filtering could be offered making it easier to find the correct content located in the appropriate context.

Do you have strong advanced search feature on your social intranet? Do your employees use your Intranet search to find information in other applications? Would love to hear about search solutions that work and those that don’t.

James Robertson

Tuesday 18th of October 2011

Hi Sean, I'm afraid I'm going to have to disagree with this one!

Our experience has shown that users don't use advance search, or even notice it. Options provided by so-called "advanced" search are also often not what people need.

I would agree that search *results* should be richer on a social intranet, presenting people as well as pages and documents. Perhaps there should also be filtering options on the results pages. We should definitely be providing more social context on search results, as you highlight.

But not advanced search ... never advanced search ...

Cheers, James