St. Mary's University is a private, Catholic Marianist University in San Antonio, Texas, offering both undergraduate and graduate programs.
The ability to easily customize results to improve search efficiency led St. Mary’s to choose Elastic Site Search. “After implementing [Site Search], users no longer need to sift through thousands of pages and documents indexed across multiple sites — they just need the top handful of results,” according to Elaine Shannon, Web Developer & User Interface Specialist at St. Mary’s.
Another important factor for St. Mary’s was the desire to gain better control over search results. Shannon explains, “We can’t always change our content to match searchers’ intentions — for example, we don’t call our residence halls “dorms” — so being able to set up synonyms and custom result sets, at an affordable price, sold us on Elastic Site Search.”
Before Elastic Site Search, the school’s programs page consisted of a long, overwhelming list of programs that was difficult to navigate, and visitors quickly left the page. To assist students with choosing different program options, St. Mary’s used Elastic Site Search to build a dedicated search tool linking interests to related programs. Now the school’s program page offers a variety of search options — by interest, program, degree, or school. According to Shannon, 34% of visitors are now using the Search by Interest tool and are immediately finding what they’re looking for.
Elaine Shannon and team use the Elastic Site Search out-of-the-box dashboard to regularly monitor search activity and rapidly update and customize results for the most popular queries to help maintain a positive visitor experience. She also builds out content, as needed, for empty search results. Search is now one of the most popular ways to navigate the St. Mary’s website and Shannon regularly receives positive feedback on the search tools.
“Now that we’ve had more than a year to tweak results, we’ve found a good balance and are serving our visitors more relevant results, which keeps them on the site longer,” Shannon explains.