Relevance is on the Rise

  • Estimated read time: 3 min read
  • Written by Chad Campbell on Sep 23rd 2016

Search is becoming more important every day. If you’re creating an app, that familiar search box is probably a key part of your UI. While a great search UI is important, the fact is, voice is becoming a growing interface. In fact, during the Google I/O keynote, the CEO of Google stated that 20% of searches are now voice searches. Whether someone uses a voice search or a UI, they’re expecting the first result, to be the most relevant result.

Relevance has been on my mind a lot for sometime now. I created a training course on Azure Search and that process made me think very deeply about relevance. It’s easy to just return any old search result. But, it can be tricky to identify which results are the most relevant. For example, in the training course, I show developers and engineers how to build a search engine for beers. Now, if you were searching for a beer, what would you want to see? What would make a beer the most relevant?

  • Is it the beer’s name?
  • Is it the name of the brewery the beer comes from?
  • Is it the availability of the beer relative to your location?
  • Should the relevance be based on your personal preferences? For example, maybe you like beers with a wheat flavor or perhaps more bitter beers.
  • Should the freshness of the beer be a factor?
  • How should unstructured data, like tweets be factored in?

These are all legitimate questions individually. Now imagine going a step further, and wanting to identify the most relevant beer as a combination of several of these factors. The question starts to become which of these questions is the most relevant. After all, that’s the question that will need to be given the most weight. Now think about the questions you need to answer to connect users with your data.

Identifying those questions can be challenging. Coming up with a strategy that aligns a user’s questions with your business’s data and goals can also be challenging. Without pinpointing these questions, users are forced to filter and sort through data. As of today, users are used to this, because it’s common practice. With relevance in play, this approach can begin to go away. In a graphical user experience, this is merely a convenience. When interacting with a voice assistant, returning the most relevant result becomes a necessity.

While the training course I created is about building a search engine, I believe this is only part of the value. In reality, I believe there's additional value in the relevance details. If you'd like to learn more about relevance, I hope you'll check out my Azure Search training course.


comments powered by Disqus

Chad Campbell
Chad Campbell

Chad is an independent software professional. He has been named a Microsoft MVP five times. His books have been translated into multiple languages and distributed worldwide. He holds a computer science degree from Purdue University, where he also studied psychology.

Chad has built sites, apps, frameworks, libraries, and platforms using Java, .NET, and Node. He's ran his own startups and has created software for Fortune 100 companies. In short, Chad knows how to create software. From ideation to delivery. From start-to-finish.

Follow Chad Online