Search is the most basic requirement while designing documents, writing blogs or developing a documentation website. Users often read your documents or visit your documentation website to find specific information. Undoubtedly, search is of paramount importance if you want your users to read and refer to your knowledge base and help articles before they reach out to your Support team.
Why is search important?
Let’s understand this in a slightly different way. Why do organisations invest in developing documents? The goal is to provide easy and simple information about products, services and offerings. The benefits of doing so are two-fold.
- Improves user experience: Users refer to your documents and make a decision if they are prospective customers or complete their actions or get their queries resolved by reading your documents if they are your existing customers.
- Reduce cost: Support tickets can be reduced significantly (as much as 50%), and hence the overall operations cost of an organisation.
Before you write and design a search system, let’s check who you write for.
- Prospective users can access information and knowledge about your brand and what services they can avail of.
- Existing users read these documents to understand the products and features, terminologies, processes, workflows and how to perform specific tasks.
- Developers read the API and integration documents to fire APIs and integrate them with your systems.
- Internal teams of the organisation trying to understand the products better – Sales, Pre Sales, Support and Integrations Teams, New Joiners, and so on
As you see, documentation touches almost every participant in the system. Hence, designing excellent documentation is elementary. What if the information resides in your docs repository, but the users cannot find it? The entire purpose of developing docs fails!
Building a Flawless Search Experience
Let’s accept it: Nobody reads product and developer documentation end-to-end. Users look for information, and search is the most natural way to find information on Google or by searching within your document or documentation website. So, you simply cannot afford to ignore this critical aspect of your documentation.
Building a flawless search experience for your documents or documentation website requires 3 teams to work in tandem – Content, Design and Engineering.
The content should be well structured with a scannable layout so that users can easily find information.
- Navigation: Table of contents, Indexing, website navigation and on-the-page navigation
- Content Structure: Small paragraphs, scannable content, logically flowing in with appropriate headings and subheadings
- Keywords: SEO-friendly keywords so that Google indexes your pages
The design is equally vital as a visually appealing and intuitive design helps the users come to the page, stay on the page and find information. The search design can include the following but is not limited to these:
- Readable fonts, style, colours and design elements
- What to show in the search results
- Highlights for the search string in the content
- The search window and the visual presentation of the search results
Intelligently designed algorithms and capabilities in your documents and documentation website list the relevant articles and search results most appropriate for the user’s intent. Your algorithm should be smart enough to find the right content and provide appropriate recommendations.
- Search results based on the Search String
- Appropriate ranking of the search results
- Autocorrection of the search string
- Recommended/Auto-fill search strings
- Saved searches
- Recommended search based on Search History
Imagine your documents are comprehensive and aesthetically pleasing, but the search results don’t show the correct articles. The entire search experience is broken!
How Razorpay Docs Improved Search
To provide the best user experience on Razorpay Docs, we took up the project to revamp the Search experience on Razorpay Docs. Search is a vast, complex topic. We have taken an incremental approach to improving the search experience phase-by-phase. To begin with, we started with the ones which required immediate attention.
- Redesigned search screens and search bar
- Improved content: SEO-friendly page titles and headings, meta descriptions and keywords
- Revamped search algorithms powered by Algolia
The initial results are promising.
The usability of our content has improved by improving the search experience on Razorpay Documentation.
- The improved search algorithm has increased the Click-Through rate for the top search results by 10.62%
- The discoverability and findability of information within the documentation have improved too, with complaints, ‘Couldn’t find what I was looking for’ dropping by 20%.
Building a flawless search experience on docs will be a long journey, but not an impossible one. We will continue to invest in this and bring in more features in the coming months.
The search feature on documentation is an indispensable component. It improves user experience, puts your content to work and reduces operational costs. It’s time you evaluate the search mechanism on your documents and website!