Searching The Guardian

 by Martin Belam, 5 July 2006

Over the course of the last week or so I have been looking at how search works across various different British newspaper websites. Today I am looking at the search service offered online by The Guardian.

Search from The Guardian's homepage is positioned near to the top right-hand corner of the homepage, above the masthead.

The Guardian online homepage

Search engine results from The Guardian include the title of an article, the publication origin, the authors name and a date stamp. There is also an abstract for each article accompanied by excerpts which illustrate the keyword that has been searched for. The Guardian search results also highlight within the results the keywords that have been searched for. They are so far the only newspaper within my survey that does this.

The Guardian search results

Within the abstract or excerpt for the article, the search results use a strange parenthesis icon to indicate where extracts have been taken from different parts of the articles containing the keywords. I felt this rather added to the visual clutter of the search results page, rather than making things clearer.

The Guardian search results

Similar to the system employed by The Times, there are a series of filters on the left-hand said of the results page. These allow the user to filter their results by section, publication, and time, as well as by author. No other newspaper site search that I have looked at so far used 'author' as a filtering criteria.

The Guardian search result filters

I found the relevancy of the results to be good, and coupled with the filtering system it was easy to narrow the search down to articles on a specific topic. The filtering system can also be used as a drill-down browse mechanism when you reset your search to a blank query string.

The Guardian also offers a web search facility via a radio button selection method on the homepage. This is a lightly Guardian branded version of Yahoo!'s web search.

Guardian branded Yahoo! web search

Here is a summary of the features of The Guardian's search.

The Guardian - feature summary
Results per page 10
Article excerpt or abstract Yes - abstract and dynamic excerpts based on search keyword
Date stamp (day/month/year) Yes
Time stamp (hours/minutes) No
Article word count No
Navigational or Section information No
Specifies original publication No
Specifies original edition No
Specifies original edition page number No
Results display colour-coded No
Search terms highlighted in results Yes
Relevancy score (%) No
Destination URL displayed No
Sponsored links featured in results Yes - but offset to the right of results
Site offers web search Yes
Default search Site search
RSS feed of search results No
Advanced search options Yes - but only via filters
Search by date-range Yes - but only via filters

Next I'll be looking at the search service offered by The Telegraph.

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