The Search Matrix: A new portal to finding content

Developing ways to help people find information has always been a popular job; and when the internet arrived search took on a whole new meaning. But one area that has never been popular with users is the ‘advanced search’ page. Enter the ‘Search Matrix’.

On a webpage we are able to create a simple alternative to an advanced search page with up to four variables on the page. So you could have formats in the top row, subjects in the first column, other variables – such as an icon for action-specific information – in each cell and you can even allow your users to enter additional keywords into an ‘add keyword’ field.

This feature is particularly useful where your website caters to a group of users with information needs around a particular discipline; the first column could list the main subjects in the discipline, the columns the format (video, webpage, image, so on) and within the cells flags can be added for region specific information. At Arup, for instance, we have found it to be a popular tool on the websites of our communities of practice.

You can clearly see this in action in the Search Matrix below; clicking on the links will take you to saved searches for content about matrices:

Access a fully fledged demonstration for the subject area of intranet management by heading to the ‘demo’ on the right.

As you can see, the format is highly extensible to multiple rows, columns and in-cell variables; and though intranets and matrices have been used in the two examples on this page the potential for the Search Matrix applies to every discipline that needs its content to be more findable.

Though the Search Matrix uses a number of different programming languages (CSS, JavaScript and HTML) and image sprites (where you are using images as links) it is easy to reuse on your content management system driven website; the hard work has already been done and is freely available. Simply copy and read more paste the code in this file into a web page editing tool such as Kompozer or Dreamweaver, edit the columns, rows, text and links to suit your needs, perhaps change the colours using find and replace (here’s a blue version of the intranet matrix for example), then copy and paste the resulting code directly into the HTML option of your favourite rich text content management system editor.

Need further help? Please contact Adam Pope.

One reply on “The Search Matrix: A new portal to finding content”

Thank You for this post. I have been wanting to add this search matrix thing for a while. I did not know what it was called. I was wondering if it will work for Yahoo’s sitebuild? I wll have to give it try. Thank you

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