What’s New in SharePoint 2013 Search User Experience: Understanding SharePoint Search Terminology

Enterprise Search

In SharePoint 2013, one of the biggest investments was in Search.  There is a lot there.  Lots of changes and much to get use to in promoting enterprise search as the killer app.  I’m disappointed by how frequently I see search overlooked and underutilized.  This really is where all those investments in gathering and organizing your data come together.  Why did you move to SharePoint in the first place?  Search was the killer app that was going to make life easier and increase findability and discoverability.  It’s time to invest and ramp up on the coolest part of SharePoint 2013.


Hover Panel – The hover panel provides a larger viewing space for a search result.  The hover panel look and feel and result can be modifying the display template.  You can also add or modify actions.  There is a lot of power in the UI for this panel.  What you see in the hover panel is supposed to be an example of what you can do.   You can even play videos and view images right from the hoover panel.  The

Document Previews – Allows you to see common Office file types, images and videos in a little display window to the right when hovering over a search result. The preview capability is provided by Office Web Applications with read access or when licensed the ability to edit the office files. The read only preview requires an Administrator to set up the Web Application clients.  It is important to understand that the default configuration of seeing document previews in the Hover panel only works properly when both using Office Web Apps and when it is indexing Office documents on SharePoint 2013.  If the server is SharePoint 2010, File Share or other environment the document preview will not be available without a third party tool.

Note: There are a variety of third party tools like BA Insight that can provide previews for the older binary formats and many other formats like PDF and other non Microsoft formats.  They provide previews for files indexed from file shares, SharePoint 2007, 2010, as well as picking up the old binary formats and when combined with connectors a

Hit highlighting – While we have previously seen hit highlighting where the terms you search for are highlighted in results, you can now see the highlighted terms in the hover panel which allow you to jump to those results within the document.  Notice the “look inside” section.

Result Blocks – SharePoint 2013 has ever more functionality for controlling the look of the results that come when searching for a result.  The result block allows you to share a set of results clustered in a visual way. A block of results can be set apart with a display template, but by default they are simply included within visual braces.  An example would be when searching for ppt the results for presentations would be returned in a block.  Result blocks can be promoted.  There are a few built in result blocks for terms like video, ppt, xls, doc, and other file types.

Query Suggestions – Search helps users quickly return to important sites and documents by remembering what they have previously searched and clicked. The results of previously searched and clicked items are displayed as query suggestions at the top of the results page.

Query Rules – Those in charge of results can try to anticipate what people are looking for and get around out of the box ranking algorithms.  If people are asking for videos the search search system can check against a set of terms that are setup with rules and corresponding conditions and actions.  A search for sales forecast could return a set of results in a content block specifically from the sales department site.  These query rules are not restricted to IT Admins and are available to site administrators and managers.

Result Types – The quickest filter in SharePoint is to leverage the result types.  Synonymous with file types, the result type allows you to restrict the search results to a specific type of file. The result type can also be modified to display the results in different ways.  For example documents may have thumbnails to the right, while people results may display the person’s face to the left.

Display Templates – Site collection administrators and site owners can use display templates to customize the appearance of search results.  These can be customized with HTML or JavaScript. Display templates are assigned to result types for their appearance.  Out of the box the people, sites, pictures, videos and office documents each have different display templates.  These display templates don’t only have to be used in the results page, they can now be used on any page for displaying content that’s driven by search and provide for a much richer search driven set of applications.

Language Preference – Users can specify their preference for search results.  Even if a site doesn’t provide additional language templates, a user can specify the

Query Suggestions – In SharePoint 2013, the users previous queries as well as other popular queries can be shared to provide suggestions for better results.  Type ahead and auto completion take advantage of the results you’ve clicked and then based on what others had clicked and found.

Search Results Web Part – Using query rules, you can change the behavior of the search depending on what user is accessing it. That is, you would also need good metadata to make this work, but having a complete user profile (including the job title, department, and interests) is a good start. Based on such user information, you can define how the search experience for that user will be.  This is really where planning becomes important.  Using profile data and building real context around the user your rules can get really powerful for creating a customized and even personalized results in the UI based on the attributes of the user.

Promoted results – Formerly called Best Bets, Promoted Results appear above ranked results. For example, for the query “menu,” a query rule could specify a particular Promoted Result, such as a link to the cafeteria menu for today. These items were previously referred to as Best Bets in SharePoint 2010.

Rank – Order in which items are displayed – SharePoint Server 2013 provides new ranking models for people search, intranet sites, and Internet sites. A ranking model determines recall (which items are displayed in the search results) and rank (the order in which search results are displayed).

Action Terms – Change ranked results, such as by modifying their relevance. For example, for a query that contains “download toolbox,” a query rule could recognize the word “download” as an action term and boost results from a particular download site on your intranet.  There are some possibilities to leverage previous keywords in the action terms, but it’s the power of combining these action terms with rules that allow them to be used like variables and scale much better for creating powerful search experiences.

Result Sources – In SharePoint Server 2013, site collection administrators, site owners, and site designers can also create and configure result sources to meet their specific requirements.

Search refiners – Search Refinement WebPart.  These refiners can be configured to work off of managed properties and crawl properties that are mapped. In your edit screen you can make managed properties “refinable” and yes – latent will allow you to pick it up later without doing a full crawl. By default, the Refinement Web Part is included on the search results page, but you will need to configure it if you want to use other options.



2 Comments on “What’s New in SharePoint 2013 Search User Experience: Understanding SharePoint Search Terminology

  1. Pingback: CollabShow Search-First Approach to SharePoint 2013 Migration Infographic - CollabShow

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