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Learn How to Tackle the Biggest Site-Search Design Challenges

Apr 11 2019 | by Loop54

Our new guide explores some key hurdles you'll likely run into when designing your site-search – and explains how to overcome them.

To keep things simple, we've broken down these problems into 3 categories: natural language processing challenges, contextual challenges, and engineering challenges.

Natural Language Processing Challenges 

You need to overcome natural language processing problems to ensure your site-search fully understands what your users want, no matter what they type in the search box.

There's stemming to consider, which involves breaking down words into their component parts to better understand search intent; partial matching and inverse partial matching, used to interpret compound words; and then there's the challenge of understanding users' typos and misspellings

Get these factors right and you're well on your way to building a supreme site-search experience. 

Contextual Challenges

Understanding context is something we humans take for granted, but teaching an artificial intelligence to 'get it' can be tricky.

It doesn't help that there are a gazillion different words for the same thing, like 'sport shoes', 'trainers', 'pumps' and 'sneakers'. For this reason, it's paramount that your site-search understands synonymity, allowing it to interpret synonyms and serve up the right results every time. 

Another contextual challenge is the opposite of handling synonyms – handling polysemic words, or words with multiple meanings. This is important because you don't want users to search for a pair of 'pumps' and be presented with devices for inflating their bike tyres! 

These are tough problems to solve, mainly because language is so complex, but our deep-dive into the world of site-search design has your back.

Engineering Challenges

That's the linguistic hurdles cleared, but what about the technical stuff?

To begin, you need to think about data laundry, which is all about keeping your database clean and streamlined. It involves removing duplicate index entries, normalising attributes, and merging your repositories. 

There's also re-indexing, caching, and scaling to consider, each of which are explored in detail in the guide. 

We've done our best to explain each of these challenges, describe why they need to be solved, and offer solutions and fixes in our deep-dive. Check it out today and ensure your site-search delights visitors and performs as well as it can. 

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