Smarter Search in ClickHelp Echo Release
by Bradley Nice, Content Manager at ClickHelp — all-in-one help authoring tool
If you still haven’t learned the news about ClickHelp, I’d like to share the new Echo update by ClickHelp that was released in July 2022!
Among other useful and impressive features, I’d like to investigate what’s so great about Full-Text search (FTS) improvement. Since search is now being integrated into everything — our cars, phones, homes, and even glasses. And access to the site search is one of the things they take for granted. First, let’s dive into history and figure out what kinds of searches exist on the Internet.
Search on text fields can be done in many different ways. Traditional string searches are performed on smaller text fields. Such methods are not as efficient as modern indexed searches but require fewer resources. Full-text searches provide more rich options for innovative querying. Let’s compare.
String searches are algorithms that search for consecutive characters in a larger text field. Those searches are performed character per character and can be relatively slow.
Indexed searches. When the search area is large, the reasonable solution is to create an index of search terms beforehand. Think of it as a glossary with the numbers of the pages where the term is mentioned, which you may notice at the end of some books or papers. This approach demands a lot of time to create an index, but then it is much faster to search for information in the documents using the index than simple string search methods.
Full-text search allows conducting a search through documents and databases not only by title but also by content.
Indexing can be done in different ways, such as batch indexing or incremental indexing. The index then acts as an extensive glossary for any matching documents.
Unlike metadata search methods, which analyze only the description of the document, the full-text search goes through all the words in the document, showing information that is more relevant or the exact information that was requested.
The full-text search may be useful when one needs to search for:
- a name of the person in a list or a database;
- a word or a phrase in a document;
- a web page on the internet;
- products in an online store, etc.
- a regular expression.
Full-text search results can be used as an input for a replacement of phrases and in the process of related word forms search. It is a great tool for online documentation since it increases the case deflection rate for customers and onboarding speed for new employees.
Smarter Search with ClickHelp
Now, after you know the difference between string, indexed and FTS searches, let’s see what ClickHelp offers concerning smart search and how it makes the searching routine better, with examples.
For such search, the system uses smart adjustments and replacements that are likely relevant to a search request even though search argument words and spellings may not precisely match. I find this kind of search convenient when researching unfamiliar or sophisticated terms, when you may not know the proper spellings.
Users sometimes make mistakes as they type. With this release, the system considers the misprints, and you get accurate results, even with a typo or a spelling mistake. For example, see how I misspelled first and still got the correct result. For me, it’s the best and most essential update in this release.
Sometimes when you search for something, it is great to get recommendations or suggestions as you type. I find it helpful in saving users time, as they can select their desired option as soon as it pops up, rather than having to type it out completely.
Your documentation might contain wording different from what your users are searching for. So synonyms help to search by equivalent words and still get relevant results.
Search as you type
Different systems work in diverse ways. For example, you type what you need to find and then click ‘search’ (that’s how it was in ClickHelp before). You start typing and get relevant search results before even finishing typing the query. It is better this way and more effort effective since you don’t need to make additional movements by completing the phrase and then clicking. Sometimes you need only to type a couple of letters, and you get the result.
The New ClickHelp Echo update made me think of smarter search and investigate the matter, which was a worthwhile experiment. Now I have a better understanding of why the documentation systems give so much attention to searching features. I found noteworthy goodies here. It was a wise choice to improve searching cause everyone uses it, from authors to readers. Keep it up, folks!
Have a nice day!
Bradley Nice, Content Manager at ClickHelp.com — best online documentation tool for SaaS vendors