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Design, Intranet

The ‘no results’ intranet search results page

Any search results page need to be helpful, to funnel people’s attention to the genuine results and to help them use any refinement tools to improve the quality of their results. Sometimes though, there are no results. We still need to be helpful. Here’s a draft of my ‘no results’ intranet page.
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Sorry, I didn’t find any results for xxxxxxxxx.

You’re welcome to try again with more or fewer keywords. Try different keywords, or more general terms. I know you’ll double check your spelling!

  • Try broadening your search by selecting all of ‘all of the intranet’ or ‘This site and sub-sites’.
  • If you’ve defined any ‘search refinements’, try removing some until more search results appear.
  • Get additional search tips by visiting Search Help

It’s possible that I don’t have what you’re looking for; it might exist in areas off the intranet I don’t have access to.

If there’s content on the intranet that you think should be higher up the search results page, contact Internal Communications and they’ll see if they can tweak my search engine.

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Draft 2

Crafted due to comments – thank you for your help.

Sorry, I didn’t find any results for xxxxxxxxx.

Please do try again with different, or fewer, keywords. I know you’ll double check your spelling.

  • Broaden your search by selecting all of ‘all of the intranet’ or ‘This site and sub-sites’.
  • If you’ve defined any ‘search refinements’, try removing some until more search results appear.
  • Get additional search tips by visiting Search Help
  • Try an advanced search.

I might not have what you’re looking for; it might exist in areas off the intranet I don’t have access to.

Tell me what you need

What were you hoping to find exactly?

Where did you expect to find it? Within which main tab?

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Any suggestions? (Yes of course I intend to use some kind of sad robot to personify my intranet search engine!)

[Wedge]

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Photo credit: Mike Fischer

About Wedge

I’m Wedge, and this is my website! I’ve worked within internal communications since 2004, managing intranets and digital comms. Now I’m a freelance comms and intranet specialist - I help organisations plan and improve their intranets. I work with other agencies, and write a lot of blog and magazine articles. I founded the Intranet Now conference. You can catch up with me on Twitter - I’m @Wedge.

8 thoughts on “The ‘no results’ intranet search results page

  • That’s a lot of text to tell someone there are no results. I used to do something similar with 404 error pages, but users actually disliked it because they wasted time reading something when they could have been off doing something else.

    If you really need to explain to your readers how to search, I find that when writing useful instructions it helps to have clear headings and bullet points, and as little text as possible. But maybe that’s just me!

  • You must be right, and yet we have a real need to help people move on from the ‘no results’ page, as it’s definitely going to be seen a great for the next 6 months (we have no content – new, empty, intranet).

    Plus, people can inadvertently ‘over narrow’ their search, so we need to teach them about the default and optional refinement options. I’m sure our people are confident with Bing and Google, but internally, our new search engine is a quantum leap forward from our old engine.

    I’ll have a think about headings, although that will actually add words, so I will see what words I can remove, thank you.

  • Definitely along the right lines and great to be helpful. I agree with Michael that it would be more beneficial to cut the amount of text. Difficult but the meaning of the first para could be conveyed simply by ‘Try again. Check your spelling’. Perhaps a little too friendly and informal at the mo. After all, it is a robot that’s talking to them!

  • Hi Jon, thanks for your thoughts. Overly friendly? Yes, you’re quite right. Most ‘no’ pages tell the user off, shouting at them to check their spelling. (What does your intranet do?) I’m definitely getting away from that, it’s a conscious decision.

    I’ll try to reduce word count, sure thing. Maybe I can double-check the instructions for redundancy, get rid of obvious things. Cheers and thanks.

  • Short is best. Add spelling capability that SUGGESTS other words/phrases. I’m not put off when Google corrects my typos. Rather than a search education — could provide link for more details so you don’t turn off the experienced searchers.

  • Hi Wedge,
    I would advise to log what people search for on your intranet. The log with queries that return no result are the most of interest.
    Except examining the logs and a suitable sorry message you could also do a feedback form. The visitor is probably frustrated because she can’t find what she wanted to do on the intranet. A simple form gives this visitor the opportunity to share the frustration with you. Use specific questions like e.g. What are you looking for?
    Maybe the content is indexed differently or it is not available. Both worth knowing.

  • Hi Wedge,

    I agree with Martin, Jonathan, and Michel. Short is better.

    Zac is also right, if possible, instead of telling your staff members to contact Internal Communications via email if content is missing/not ranked highly enough I would suggest you include two questions (each with a free text box to fill in the answer) asking something like:
    1) ‘What where you searching for?’
    2) ‘Where did you expect to find this?’
    Then use automated workflow and link this to your intranet statistics. This makes life so much easier for Internal Communications as all data/issues will be logged in one place . Personally as a Marketing & Comms person it’s one of my favourite tools in our intranet solution). I also think staff are more likely to report missing content etc if its easy for them to do so, and I this type of workflow is definitely more intuitive than having to open outlook, find the correct person your sending the email to.

    Hope this helps :)

  • Hi Martin,

    thanks for the suggestion; that’s a function idea, so I’ll have to investigate if we can deliver such a useful function, thanks.

    Hi Bas,

    thanks for the logging reminder; again, that’s a feature idea, and I certainly expect to be able to run reports on what our people are searching for. Right now, I’m designing the ‘no results’ page and I”ll see if I can get a form in, thanks there.

    We’ll certainly tweak the indexing / crawl methodology over the months – the big deal is, that we’re launching with very little content, so the ‘no results’ page will be seen a lot!

    Hi Linda,

    yep, I’ll try to slim down the word count. Thanks for the form idea of course, I’ll see if we’re able to implement that. I didn’t expect anyone to have to open Outlook and search for the right person to contact with feedback – sorry if that wasn’t clear. The words ‘Internal Communications’ are underlined to indicate a direct link, I see it wasn’t clear in my draft (but it is only a draft).

    1) ‘What were you searching for?’
    2) ‘Where did you expect to find this?’

    Seem the right questions to help direct people’s comments when they’re offering feedback, thanks there.

    Wedge

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