We had website-search at the project’s core to replace the website, as mentioned in our blog post “Searching, looking for content”.

A key objective we wanted to achieve from any search system was to allow people to get the correct information faster without getting fed up and leaving the site. The question is, have we achieved it?

If we compare January-April for the last four years we can see that for 2021, when the new search tool was the default, more people are searching, performing fewer searches per visit, and exiting search less without clicking a result.

This indicates that the new search tool is more effective at presenting the correct results and that people use search more because they trust the results.

 VisitsSearchesSearch exitsSearches per visit% search exits (search exits/visits)
2018 (January-April) 139,593317,02030,0172.2721.45%
2019 (January-April)135,360312,58831,8242.3123.51%
2020 (January-April)134,790297,11032,1512.2023.85%
2021 (January-April)141,890276,55924,4381.9517%
Search analytics from 2018-2021

So early indications are that the work we’ve completed so far benefits our users and gets them the information they need quickly.

Our legacy search tool updated once per day, whereas our new search tool updates within a few minutes of a new piece of content being created, so users are also getting more real-time results as the website changes constantly during a normal working day.

When you use the search on the new website, you will be searching for structured, filterable content that allows you to interrogate the results to better find what you’re looking for.

For example, if you were looking for a course, you could select Course, the Course Level (e.g. Undergraduate) and the Start Dates available from the filter options.

2023 update

 VisitsSearchesSearch exitsSearches per visit% search exits (search exits/visits)
2021 464,174895,78479,9911.9317%
2023 (Q1)123,936181,34021,0881.4617%
2023 (Q2)91,007131,65416,1501.4417%
2023 (Q3)101,303142,47016,6341.4016%
2023 (Q1-Q3)316,246455,46453,7921.4417%
Search analytics from 2021-2022, and Q1-Q3 of 2023

During the last six months of 2022 we worked with our hosting partner, Acquia, on improvements to search. We can see that people are searching less per visit, indicating that results are more relevant.