CASE STUDY

ACU Goes to School and Transforms Search on their Sitecore Website

SearchStax Studio Brings Analytics and Easy-to-Use Site Search Tools

We found that the search results with SearchStax, straight out-of -the-box, was light-years ahead of what we were delivering through our existing configuration.

Luke Williams
Head of Digital Experience

About

The Australian Catholic University (ACU) is a medium-sized public university in Australia with seven campuses serving more than 35,000 students with over 2,500 staff members. ACU is is ranked in the top 2% of universities worldwide and is the number one Catholic university in the Asia-Pacific region.

Situation

The challenge for ACU is that their campuses are quite small in each of their markets and they needed an exceptional digital experience to effective serve their audience. ACU re-platformed to Sitecore about 4 years ago and their three main public websites have about 15,000 pages of content which makes having effective search critical to reaching their audience.

Out-of-the-box Solr search was adequate, but they wanted an exceptional search experience to meet their digital needs. Plus, ACU was missing insights on how users were searching on their website, and they wanted to empower their Marketing team with the ability to optimize and manipulate the search results without requiring significant amounts of developer time.

ACU had moved to the Sitecore platform to transform the digital experience and personalization needs for their website. In order to deliver on this promise, ACU needed substantial improvement in the search experiences to meet both business and user expectations. The solution had to deliver value quickly through a streamlined implementation, provide detailed analytics and reduce the cost of managing site search going forward. 

Solution

The project started seamlessly as the integration of SearchStax Studio with the Sitecore Module delivered a fast implementation. ACU worked with with Espire, their Sitecore partner, to come up with an agile two-phase approach to get the Studio live on the ACU website quickly. In Phase 1 of the project, they leveraged the Studio UI Accelerator to re-skin the search results delivered through the SearchStax platform to match their website. Phase 2 of the project will be to deeply embed search functionality using the SearchStudio APIs to deliver the results back into the native Sitecore UI.

The two phase approach let ACU deliver value quickly and they were able to start tailoring and improving search results during Phase 1.

Results

ACU anticipated that they would need to spend a significant amount of time tailoring and optimizing results, but found that Studio straight out-of-the-box was light-years ahead of what they had with their previous configuration.

Studio helped ACU transform the search experience for students and staff, and led to better results because the Marketing team was able to leverage:

  • Rich insights from the analytics in Studio enabling the team to identify areas where the digital experience could be improved
  • Easy-to-use tools that could be configured without coding