In our recent poll the feature most users wanted to see was a search suggestions function.  Well, we’ve delivered on that and it is freely available on Trip.

Search suggestions

In the image above you’ll see the search suggestions to the right of the search box. The user has done a simple search and we’ve made a number of suggestions to help the user formulate a more focused search.  Clicking on one of those suggestions, for example, ‘breast cancer’ results in a new search for ‘breast cancer’ and further search suggestions, the top ones being:

  • breast cancer screening
  • negative breast cancer
  • breast cancer therapy
  • breast cancer treatment
  • triple negative breast cancer
  • breast cancer metastatic
  • breast cancer risk
  • breast cancer radiotherapy

So, it’s a really simple system to get better search results.  In addition our system is available as you start typing your search in the search box.

The search results system has been created as part of our involvement in the KConnect project (funded via the EU Horizon 2020 scheme).  The team at the Institute of Software Technology and Interactive Systems, Technische Universität Wien (Vienna University of Technology) have taken search suggestions from two sources:

  • PubMed – they have a system which we’ve used for a number of years (but restricted to a user typing in the search box).  This has never been satisfactory and always seemed a bit ‘dry’ – hence wanting to improve on it.
  • The Trip search logs.  Users search Trip thousands of times a day and we start to build up a picture of terms that go together.  We can mine this data to come up with potential search suggestions.

And, being evidence-based, we’re mixing the search suggestions and recording which get clicked.  So, will our users prefer PubMed or search log suggestions?  Either way, the results will help inform future developments of the system.  But, as it stands, the mix is already much better than the PubMed suggestions alone.

The one obvious improvement to make is the design – as it’s fairly poor.  But that will have to wait till we roll out our next new feature – mis-spelling (the second most wanted new feature requested in the poll).  This is near to being released and again has been created with the help of the team at the Institute of Software Technology and Interactive Systems as part of the KConnect project.  When that’s released we’ll get our designer involved to make it look seamless.

Trip, making search simple!