My good friend, Matthew McDermott wrote a great blog post a few weeks ago with the title “Think Search First – Planning Your Next SharePoint Project”. In his great storytelling style, he writes:
“Users do not use search-based solutions because they have never had that option.
Since folders and file names are the only way most users know how to keep documents unique, it takes a bit of show and tell to get them to “see” the benefit of metadata. I see reluctance to use metadata on the part of users when they don’t grasp the value of filling out the fields. Making the fields required does not improve compliance, it only means the users are forced to supply a value, not necessarily a meaningful value.”
That is a common problem!
Having good search relies on good content AND good metadata.
There is no shortcut. There is no other way.
As a search consultant, I get questions like this almost every week:
“Currently we use [SP2013 / FAST for SP2010 / anything else] and users are very unhappy because of relevancy. Even though we tweaked the relevancy and modified ranking, it still doesn’t give what users want, many issues are related to content too since it is not well tagged.
My main questions was if we move to O365 search are we going to get better experience than what we have today?”
This is a 100% misunderstanding.
Upgrading to the latest version of SharePoint or moving the content to the cloud doesn’t solve your search challenges. Why and how would findability improved if you don’t invest into improving your content and metadata?
What can solve your problem is to understand that you have to invest into it.
And if you want to have good search, focus on your content first – with findability in your mind.
As Matt says:
“If you fail to invest the time in planning how you are going to retrieve the documents, and if you fail to invest in demonstrating the value of metadata to your users, you will fail to get substantial value from SharePoint. There are many powerful features that are unlocked by using the basic out-of-the-box features of SharePoint (and of course SharePoint Online) if you just invest a little time.”
Think Search first.
Here are some ideas what you can invest into if you use SharePoint – with proper planning and preparations they can provide immediate benefits.
- Content Sources (on-prem and hybrid)
- Result Sources
- Custom Search Center
- Custom Search pages and navigation
- Custom search metadata (search schema)
- Query rules to promote results, boosting results, as well as modifying the query
- Custom metadata as refiners
- Custom Display Templates to define what to display on each result and how to display everything
Everything in the list above can be customized on-prem as well as in the cloud (except content sources – you have to have on-prem or hybrid for this).
And before you start working on your action plan to jumpstart search, don’t forget: to be able to find your content, think search first.
You can read Matthew McDermott’s full article here “Think Search First – Planning Your Next SharePoint Project”.