Feature Friday: Facets, event searches and more

News article

A lot going on behind the scenes, but also some visible changes and improvements in the editor experience while keeping the focus on bureau content migration.

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Return of the facets: check

Example of search faceting tool
The user has narrowed their search to services with the apply action, and including construction and/or water topics.

Early in our design process, the POWR team worked towards a search refinement model that took advantage of "faceting" — that is, narrowing down results by selecting certain attributes you want to focus on. Think of the Amazon search results screen, which allows you to research (for instance) a television purchase based on the screen size, the manufacturer type, and the price among other attributes. 

We've returned to that model for its power and clarity, and have some ideas about how to handle the extra space needed in the sidebars for faceting when it comes to viewing them on smaller devices. We've also expanded its capability by employing check boxes to select a facet. If the choices are mutually exclusive then you may only select one (as for actions on the service search page), but otherwise you may click multiple boxes to cumulatively narrow your search scope. 

Searching event views

In other search improvements, there is now a view available for events that allows the user to limit their search to past events, events upcoming, or by a distinct date range. This is possible at both the group level (so you can also look only for past events under a specific planning project, for example) and also at the sitewide level to obtain a citywide scan of what's about to happen, and what already has. 

Displaying unpublished content layout

We've made content layout easier by showing you unpublished content that is being referred to in the "related" or "featured" areas of a page. Sometimes you just want to see how it will look to add content, before exposing that content to the world as published. 

When you add unpublished content to the related or featured areas, it will not show up for the end user, but for editors you will see a brightly colored badge indicating that content is currently unpublished and not visible to the community. Once you publish that content, the badge will automatically disappear and the content will become visible on the page. 

Style guide additions

More recommendations of best practices have been added to the Portland.gov style guide. As the aphorism goes, "communicate, don't decorate." The prime objective is to put information into the hands of the community user, and enable them to transact quickly and effectively with the City whatever their request or personal situation.

This means (for example) fewer pages of content that contain more related information — so that the user sees fewer search results that are nonetheless more relevant. It also means taking advantage of the chronology inherent in events. An upcoming event tied to a specific set of dates can include what's going to happen and how to take advantage of it, and then after the event is over, summary and follow up information and perhaps photos or related links can go right into that same single event page. Over time, an archive of those events develops, searchable by date as described above.