Unified Search

Unified Search

What Problem Does This Solve?

User expect to receive the correct results regardless of what they type and search for.

When to Use This Pattern

As data (e.g. weather information, social feeds, deals, coupons, etc.) becomes more distributed across providers and services a user should be able to enter a keyword or phrase without having to know where the results come from. It’s not enough to only return geographic locations using a Location Finder but users expect to at the same time being able to search for policies, events, depots, parts, hospitals, incidents, flights, etc.

What’s the Solution?

Provide the capability to import and manage content from different sources that can be searched through a single search field. Aggregate and disambiguate the results from different content sources into a single set of search results.

Why Use This Pattern?

The key to a great search experience is to present a single set of results that is free of any duplicates but gives the user easy access to the diverse information contained by the different sources of data. In times when search providers like Google are the go to address to find information users have grown familiar and accustomed to using a single line input field to retrieve aggregated results from different data sources.

Special Considerations

It is important to disambiguate the results in a meaningful and logical way that includes removing potential duplicates, weighting results by relevance or importance, indicating the source or nature of the result, and removing excess results completely.
Not every result has a spatial component (geometry) attached to it and needs to be related to an extent or feature somehow else, e.g. liechtenstein searching for the name of a person in a directory should pull up the employee but clicking on this person needs to be related to the actual office location of this employee which requires a relation and subsequent query.

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