PHP Classes

Improved site search for every user

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The site search pages have been improved, so every site user can benefit of a better way to search the site content.

The internal search engine, that until now was only available to premium subscribers, has been made available to all users.

Among other benefits, the search results will appear split in different tabs according to the section of the site that they belong, thus making it easier to find the kind of content you are looking for.

This article explains which are all the benefits that every user will have access from now on.

Loaded Article

- Complaints about Google site search engine

- Splitting results in tabs according to the site section

- New search sections

- Auto-completing search keywords

- Why the internal search was not available to all users before?

- Other exclusive benefits for premium subscribers

* AJAX based search results page updating
* Recorded searches
* Other non-search related benefits

- Help the site improving further its user experience

- Complaints about Google site search engine

Once in a while I have noticed people complaining in Twitter, forums or even in messages sent to the site support e-mail address, that the site was hard to navigate and also hard find what they are looking for.

Often it is hard to tell what exactly those users find so hard. However, when they say they have an hard time finding what they are looking for, I suppose they mean that the site search engine does not provide satisfactory results.

For regular users, the site search used to be powered by Google. Actually what you saw were pages with the same colors and logo of the PHPClasses site, but it was actually a co-branded page of Google search restricting results to pages of this site.

Google is great for searching the Web, especially when you do not know in which site is what you are looking for. But when you know on which site and on which section of the site is what you are looking for, Google does not provide you a good user interface to control your search constraints.

- Splitting results in tabs according to the site section

One of the benefits of the internal site search is that it provides an user interface that lets you tell exactly on each section of the site you want to restrict your search: packages, forums, blogs, videos and topic discussions.

The result pages display a series of tabs that contain the results found on each of the site sections. You can click on a tab to see the results of the respective section. So the results are no longer mixed, as in the Google based search result pages.

Here you can watch a video that demonstrates how it works: ...

- New search sections

If you are a premium subscriber, you may have noticed that the original search sections was expanded. Now you can also search for pages that belong to blogs of each package, as well for pages of the discussion topics forums.

This includes the PHP specialists discussion forum. If you are not aware of what is this forum about, it is a special forum on which you can ask difficult PHP questions that will be answered by PHP specialists.

This forum used to be restrict to premium subscribers. However, if you are a regular user, you are allowed to post one question for free, thus without having to pay to becoming a premium subscriber.

If you were not aware of this forum, you may want to try it now: ...

- Auto-completing search keywords

Another feature of the internal search pages is the auto-complete support. While you type the search keywords the site shows several suggestions to complete your words.

The auto-completion suggestions come from compilations of the most searched keywords in the site. So the suggestions are very likely to be what you want to search for.

- Why the internal search was not available to all users before?

If you are not a premium subscriber, you may notice that the search pages display advertising. This advertising is placed by Google AdSense program.

The old Google based search engine also displayed advertising. It generates significant revenue for the site, which helps keeping the site financially viable. So for now it is not possible to remove the advertising.

The current version of the internal search engine was launched in 2007 as part of the benefits of premium subscribers.

The reason why the internal search engine was not made available to all users since then was due to a misunderstanding of Google AdSense program policies. I understood that it was not allowed to place advertising in internal search pages and I would need to use only Google AdSense for search.

After talking with Google representatives about this subject, they cleared the misunderstanding. So, now the internal site search is available to all users.

- Other exclusive benefits for premium subscribers

As mentioned above, the premium subscribers access search pages that do not show any advertising. This way the search pages are loaded faster and users are not distracted by the advertising.

This is just one of the benefits for premium subscribers.

* AJAX based search results page updating

When you click on the tabs to show different sections of search results, or other pages of results within the same search section, the search results page contents is updated.

The advertising that shows for non-premium subscribers is sensitive to the contents of each page. Therefore the site has to fully reload the page, so AdSense crawler robot fetches the results with a different URL, so it can optimize the advertising according to the page contents.

Since premium subscribers do not see any advertising, the site uses AJAX requests to update only the portions of the page to show new search results.

This way, the search results user interface for premium subscribers is even faster than for regular users.

* Recorded searches

If you have some specific interest, lets say about Facebook, Frameworks, AJAX, iPhone, etc... and you would like know about any new content that the site publishes about those interests, recorded searches is the feature that you want to use.

It lets you record one or more searches with whatever keywords you want. Once a day or once a week, the site plays back your recorded searches.

If new pages appear in the results for the recorded keywords, the site sends you an e-mail with the list of updated pages, so you never miss a bit about new content of your interest.

* Other non-search related benefits

Premium subscribers have other benefits. If you are interested to learn whether it is worth paying to become a premium subscriber, here you may find a comparison table of the benefits of premium subscribers versus regular user.

If you are regular site user, you may also try the premium subscriptions for free during 7 days. Just go here and request a premium trial invitation:

- Help the site improving further its user experience

As you may understand by now, the search the site is one of enhancements that has been done to improving the user experience.

The other initiative to improve the site user experience is the site redesign proposals contest that is taking submissions now. ...

This contest is giving away a money prize of USD $3000 to the winner. Runner ups are also entitled to prizes but for now their prizes are not in the form of money.

It is expected that in the future the site will run other editions of the contest. Hopefully it will be possible to pay money prizes of higher amounts, so it attracts more qualified designers that will submit better designs.

The money prizes are funded with revenue of premium subscriptions. One way that you can help attracting better designers is to become a premium subscriber. Greater revenue from premium subscriptions allows paying greater money prizes.

If you would like to help now, just go here to purchase your premium subscription:

Other than that, if you have other ideas to improve the site user experience besides taking new design proposals and the enhancements made to the site search, feel free to post a comment with your suggestions or criticisms.

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1. Record visits in history - Peng Yan (2009-10-21 23:16)
It is good if the site can record the package pages visited... - 1 reply
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  Blog PHP Classes blog   RSS 1.0 feed RSS 2.0 feed   Blog Improved site search ...   Post a comment Post a comment   See comments See comments (2)   Trackbacks (0)