Seeking a Search Solution
The Institute for Systems Biology (ISB), a leader in scientific research, generates hundreds of pieces of content each year. Key to their mission is sharing this large database of articles, publications, news, and projects. However, finding this content was hampered by an unsatisfactory search tool. A visitor seeking a specific project or publication was often met with an incomplete and cluttered page and many irrelevant results. Worse still, ISB’s extensive collection of research publications was stored on a separate database not included in that search, frustrating the researchers who wanted to share their work more easily. As a Maintaingo client, ISB asked the team to design and develop an improved search experience that integrated their full dataset into a single, useful results page.
The Design and Development Process
Maintaingo worked with ISB’s internal team to establish the project requirements. This new tool needed to be robust and fast enough to handle thousands of visitors per month. Different user types (from researchers to press outlets) needed to find their content in a minimum of clicks. And it the results needed to be relevant to visitors “automatically”, with a minimum of outside guidance or pruning by ISB staff.
Maintaingo began with the design of mockups for the potential new results page. A “tabbed” layout was introduced. Iterative rounds of designs were created in collaboration with ISB’s internal communications team. Once the user experience and aesthetics were matched expectations, Maintaingo moved to development of the new feature.
Like many research institutions, ISB uses Zotero for tracking and sharing their publications. A custom integration was developed by Maintaingo to pull the data from Zotero’s service into the WordPress-powered website. Presentation was helped by the flexible WordPress “custom post type”, and relevance fine-tuned with the powerful Relevanssi search plugin. After extensive testing across browsers and devices, Maintaingo took the updated search tool live.
An Improved Results Page (and Visitor Engagement!)
In the weeks that followed, ISB saw a significant increase of user engagement via their new search results page. Visitors were less likely to “bounce” away from the results page, and spent additional time browsing the website. The new inclusion of research from Zotero in the results page lead to markedly increase of traffic that viewed that research page loads and visitor sessions generated by the search tool.
“Our team at Maintaingo was a pleasure to work with. They took the time to work through a complicated problem with multiple stakeholders,” said ISB’s Associate Director of Communications Allison Kudla. “From the big technical work down to the little details like the tiny loading icon, they worked with us until every detail was correct. We’re very happy with the result.”
Please visit systemsbiology.org to see the search feature in action.