The City of Nashville launched their redesigned website in August 2021 and they are one of the first SearchStax customers to use both of our solutions to deliver better search — Managed Solr on the backend to manage their Solr infrastructure and SearchStudio on the frontend to deliver an exceptional site search experience for their citizens. This blog post focuses on how Nashville selected and implemented better site search for their Drupal website.
Nashville’s Top Need: A Redesigned Website and Better Site Search
As one of America’s fastest growing cities, the Nashville area is home to more than 1.9 million people and 40,000 businesses. When citizens are looking for information and updates about the services they need, questions they have, issues that need attention and events they want to attend, they turn to the Nashville.gov website. Nashville.gov receives more than 30 million pageviews each year which makes the city’s website a critical resource to efficiently and effectively meet the needs of their citizens, provide superior support and improve transparency.
The History of Nashville.gov Website
The City of Nashville’s previous Nashville.gov website used the DotNetNuke open source content management solution (CMS). In 2018, Nashville worked with their implementation partner Net Tango to replace their deprecated Google Search Appliance. Net Tango identified and implemented a new Solr-based search infrastructure using Managed Solr from SearchStax.
Around the same time, it became evident that the City’s content management system supporting their website was out-of-date and no longer supported, and that the website was not meeting the increasing needs of citizens wanting to interact digitally with the City.
In 2018, the City embarked on a multi-year website redesign project. Nashville turned to Net Tango, a digital strategy and web development firm, to create the new website. They started with a user engagement project to gather feedback and identify the key needs for the future website using a public survey and focus groups with various stakeholders. The recommendations from the User Engagement Report became the foundation for the information architecture and content strategy for the Nashville.gov redesign.
Nashville.gov Key Priorities for Redesigned Website
The survey results specifically identified that users were extremely unhappy with the current site search experience and many users commented that they would search on Google.com to find what they were seeking on Nashville.gov instead of using the search feature on the Nashville.gov website.
Other key take-aways from the survey included the need to simplify content, enhance the mobile experience and streamline the navigation. The overriding goal was to create a world-class website experience that exceeds the needs of their citizens.
“We want our website to be the envy of governments across the country”
Randall Williams, Manager of Web Based Services
While the website implementation on Drupal began in 2019, the Site Search component was not started until near the end of the project in May 2021.
During implementation, the Nashville team was able to take advantage of the SearchStax Drupal Module which accelerated the integration of search with Drupal. The implementation team was going to design their own search page, but discovered that they could save weeks of development time by using the SearchStax UX Accelerator to quickly deliver a search page that leverages the out-of-the-box features of Site Search.
The implemented search solution is complicated because it is searching and crawling five different websites including the Drupal website, the legislation portal and archive, property assessment records and the customer service portal. The SearchStax team designed a comprehensive solution to crawl and bring all of the disparate data into site search..
What is New with Nashville Site Search?
The new website launched in August 2021. The new website features flexible site search and incorporates federated search for searching across five different City-related websites and data sources — Nashville.gov, hubNashville, the new Legislation Portal, the existing legislation archive and the Property Assessor’s website.
The search results can be filtered by content type, organization and website, and can be sorted by date or relevance. In order to improve the value of search results, Nashville has already implemented over 100 Promotions or keyword matches to improve the search results for top searches without having to involve IT. The Promotions allow the Nashville team to push the most popular content to the top of the search results which improves the search experience for citizens.
For example, using the Promotions feature in Site Search, the Nashville team created a promotion for Recycling Services. When any of four search terms (trash, recycling, missed pickup or recycle bin) are entered into the search window, the search results will include four suggested links that will most likely answer the user’s question.
The ability to shape the search to meet citizen needs will make it easier for the Nashville team to deliver high quality and useful content.
Improved Search Results with Site Search
To understand how much the search results have improved, it is important to compare the search results from their old website to the new website.
Here is a search for “recycling”, a common request for citizens who want to learn more about the city’s recycling programs, how to recycle better or locate recycling centers. Compare the results in the following screenshots that highlight the improvements made with their new search results.
The improvements in the new site search experience include:
- Users have more more targeted and relevant search results in new website; for example, the old website identified 31,698 results for the example search of “recycling” compared to 512 results in the new website
- Users have the option to sort either by relevance or date
- Users can easily see the content source in the search results – whether it is a webpage, service
- Users can use multiple facets to filter the results by webpages, press releases, new article, services, webforms and events without having to run a new search
- The search results provide more informative metadata which includes page title, date, content type and description
- The Nashville team can create promotions with Suggested Links to deliver the most frequently searched items to citizen search
- The Hit Highlighting using blue highlighted phrases to identify matches with the search phrase which are easier to see that the bolded highlights in the search results on the old website
Why Did Nashville Select SearchStax Site Search?
Nashville was already a SearchStax customer and has been using the SearchStax Managed Solr solution with their website since 2018.
When they were looking for a site search solution to go along with the website redesign project, Net Tango recommended that the recently released SearchStax SearchStudio solution would meet their business needs to deliver an exceptional search experience, provide analytical feedback on how search is being used and make it easier for the Marketing team to make improvements – and deliver all those features at an affordable price with minimal implementation time. Knowing that SearchStax was an expert with Solr and had been a supportive partner provided confidence to the team to select SearchStudio.
“I can’t say enough how amazed I am that the SearchStax team pulled off the implementation and made site search work the way we want it to work.”
Randall Williams, Manager of Web Based Services
The team is still gaining experience with the search analytics available with Site Search, and they now have insights to the top searches, searches with no results and the most clicked content. The search analytics dashboard also provides graphs with the average click position, click-through rates and searches with clicks. With over 3,000 searches conducted and over 1,000 content items viewed each day , the team is compiling a rich trove of data to drive future insights and identify new Promotions or gaps in content.
Learn More About Site Search for Drupal
SearchStudio for Drupal gives digital marketers insights into search and control over the search experience. SearchStudio provides a powerful and easy site search for Drupal implementations, let marketers leverage search analytics and easily create a more modern search experience with easy-to-use tools. SearchStax also has a Drupal Module that quickly integrates Site Search with any Drupal 8 or Drupal 9 environment to accelerate implementations.