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Lowering costs with a single search solution

In an effort to consolidate services and reduce costs, three councils were looking to replace their different suppliers with a single offering.

Stéphane Recouvreur

Stéphane Recouvreur 22 September 2022

Tri Borough Council Hero

Tri Borough Council

The Tri Borough Council is a project between three councils in West London, the Digital Services initiative brings together Hammersmith & Fulham Council, Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea, and Westminster City Council in an effort to consolidate sovereign service provision and lower costs.

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Reducing costs

Each of the three councils of Hammersmith & Fulham Council, Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea, and Westminster City Council already had an existing search solution on their respective websites.

The key priority of the initiative was to not only match existing search capabilities, but also provide future-proof functionality for website changes, expansion, and maintenance.

However, this is easier said than done.

With so many stakeholders, who all have experience and expectations from their existing platforms - GSA, SOLR Apache, and Thunderstone Search - the challenge was to agree on a brand new fourth solution with more benefits and flexibility than any of their previous systems.

Flexibility is key

After discussing the merits and limitations of all three existing options at length, all three IT teams agreed that the opportunity to move to a more flexible search solution was an opportunity not to be missed, and set their eyes on Funnelback Search.

With a relatively tight timeline to replace the search solutions due to the lengths of contracts left in place with previous suppliers, the technical team at Squiz got to work.

Initially indexing almost 80,000 pages over the three websites, as well as over 14,000 PDF documents, the search solution had to be capable of guiding users through a myriad of content, as well as providing efficient and intuitive back-end control and maintenance options.

Working with the designated technical teams from each council, Squiz responded to the challenging timelines and capability requests by rolling out a proven and robust solution. It met the deadlines set and provides an immensely better experience for end-users than that offered by its predecessors.

Search customized look-and-feel

The new Funnelback search allowed all three councils to use external metadata to provide categories for their auto-completion, helping guide a user from the very first character they type within their search.

Metadata-faceted navigation and Contextual Navigation were included within the search results landing page, guiding a user by allowing them to narrow down on the precise information they were looking for, without the need to sift through hundreds of results.

Futureproofing

Another key element of the project was to improve the user experience and ensure that the solution had the capability to do so in the future.

Funnelback search and its user-friendly interfaces make it simple for users to add or remove additional microsites and secondary repositories from their search with ease, ensuring that the solution can effortlessly evolve and grow in line with the business over time.

More than simply improving the experience for front-end users, the project exceeded expectations in the back-end too; allowing administrators to have full visibility and control over result rankings, search analytics, content auditor tools, and collection management.