Here at Flax, we’re often called in to take a look at existing Apache Solr or Elasticsearch search applications, to suggest improvements, tune-ups or enhancements. It’s impossible for us to know ahead of time what we might find – out-of-date versions of the software, slow performance on either (or both) the indexing or search side of the application and untidy or incorrect configuration files are all common. We also have to learn something about your particular business or sector – the search needs of an e-commerce company are very different to those of a legal firm, startup or government organisation, for example.
Often we’re asked ‘how long will this take’ before we have any detail of the business, the application or how it has been set up. Our clients are obviously keen to know as soon as possible the potential costs of any work that might be necessary and what impact it might have. Some search specialists will only engage with a client for a minimum period (say, a week) which can be quite a commitment, especially for smaller enterprises, both in terms of budget and staff time. However, we’re quite happy to admit we don’t know how long it will take – yet.
Our approach is very simple. We’ll spend a first day with you, on-site if possible, examining the following things:
- What’s are the business requirements for search?
- How is the search engine software hosted & deployed?
- What does the data to be searched look like? How is it indexed by the search engine?
- What search features have been used and has this been done correctly?
- How fast is search? What factors are affecting this?
- How is search relevance and performance tested?
This is by by no means an exhaustive list, but we’ll do what we can during this first day. At the end of the day we will write a brief report (probably no longer than two pages) detailing what we’ve found and some recommendations. If we find anything simple to fix that will make an immediate improvement, we’ll tell you (and if possible help you do so on-site). We charge a flat rate for this kind of engagement.
Even after this single day, you should now have enough information to make some decisions about improving your search – you could decide to let us help run a search workshop, or ask us to come up with a more detailed and costed improvement plan.
Hopefully you’ll also have realised that with over 15 years experience of building search applications with open source software, we are the right team to help you improve your search. If you need help, get in touch today.