Perlfect Solutions

[Perlfect-search] Re: possible improvements to a terrific product

Bart Payne
Fri, 08 Sep 2000 13:29:10 -0600
I recently got a newsletter with a link to an article entitled "Why Searching
Stinks."  It had some excellent points that we all should consider, but I
disagreed with their overall conclusion that search engines shouldn't be
incorporated into web sites.

They did some important studies through surveys to point out why people have
trouble using search engines. For me it just provided a list of potential
problems to eliminate, which was helpful.

Here is the URL of the article

It lists two features that, if included, could improve Perlfect Search. It's
already one of the best on-site search engines available - I chose it for my own

#1 improvement: Thesaurus

People commonly mis-type and misspell words they enter into search engines, then
they don't understand the results they get. If we could create a text file with
entries as in the following example, more people would get the results they
expect - instead of what they actually asked for.

The thesaurus could be set up to support 3 relationships like this:

1. word1 EQ word2: word1 EQuals word2.
2. Word1 AB word2: word1 is an ABbreviation for word2.
3. Word1 UF word2: word1 is Used For word2.

This file could actually be created and maintained in a database and exported to
a text file.

#2 improvement: show context in results

The only other item in the article's "bad things" list is how the results are
displayed. People in their survey didn't understand why some of the pages were
listed in the results. The solution to this seemed to be showing the keyword
used in the search (could be the one from the thesaurus since that what they
think they typed) in a sentence after the <body> tag. It would show the users
their keyword in the context used in the file shown (in the results page).

I like the page title and description listing in the results page. Maybe the
context example sentence could be shown after the description�

If I had to choose between these two features I'd definitely choose the
thesaurus. I think it would be the most help to the users.

I think it was great reading the article and comparing it to how Perlfect would
have done in their survey. It would have done great!

I, for one, appreciate all of the work done to create Perlfect Search -
especially the intelligent design of the product.

Bart Payne

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