Secret ingredients to quality software

SSW Foursquare

Rules to Better Search - 4 Rules

  1. Every website out there has a page that displays the results of a search. I am amazed that no standard has been adopted throughout the Web as nearly every site seems to have a different way of displaying data.

    However, Google is a very good example for displaying search results. Their result pages are clear and efficient, especially for a large result set.

    results ssw
    Figure: Good example – adopt Google's search result layout

    So adopt Google's search result layout and it will give new and regular users a better navigation experience. Here's our standard layout for our search function.

    Want the 'Google grid'? Then follow these rules to help users to navigate:

    1. Filters at the top (if more than one search parameter,then add a "search" button)
    2. The number of results found + how many seconds the search took to execute
    3. A statement that explains the criteria that you used for searching (or keep the criteria in the text box like google does)
    4. The number of pages found (hyperlinks centered in the middle), and these hyperlinks should be shown on the footer of the page only.

    results filter
    Figure: The header of SSW results screen - filter, number of results found, search criteria and time taken

    results pagination
    Figure: Good example - The footer of SSW product order listing page has the hyperlinks for pages 1 to 10 centered

    results google
    Figure: Google's classic search results

  2. Do you know how to use SharePoint search?

    SharePoint search is a powerful tool for discovering information. Here are some tips to make sure you are getting the most from it. There are two things to consider regarding SharePoint search; firstly, how you save information to SharePoint to be more easily discoverable; secondly, how to perform searches within SharePoint.

    Here are some tips for performing searches:

    Know how to navigate SharePoint search – watch this video

    • Use the categories (top)
    • Use the filters (right navigation / faceted search)
    • Use the scope to go wider
    • Use the specific properties (see below)
    • People - Use Delve indexed properties (i.e. Skills)

    Search a specific property

    If you are familiar with the structure of the metadata in the content you're searching, you can restrict your searches to a property with the syntax <property>:<search term>. E.g. to search the filename field for the term "report", you would use "filename:report".

    Example of properties you can use (common ones);

    • Filetype:
    • CreatedBy:
    • ModifiedBy:
    • Title:

    More: https://docs.microsoft.com/en-us/office365/securitycompliance/keyword-queries-and-search-conditions

    filter sharepoint example
    Figure: Example of using Filetype: filter

    Use Boolean OR and AND operators Similar to Google and Bing, you can use OR and AND Boolean operators. E.g. "sharepoint AND search".

    Note: OR and AND must be capitalized, however, the case is irrelevant for actual search terms.

    Use an asterisk (*) wildcard for partial matches

    This can be useful if you know that certain words are used together, e.g. Fire* will return results for FireBootCamp.

    Note: Because of word stemming which is enabled by default in SharePoint 2019, 2016, and 2013, you do not need to use wildcards to find variations on words. For example, searching for "computer" will return results that contain "computers", so you do not need to search for "computer*".

    Use double quotes to find specific phrases

    E.g. search for "social media" to make sure you get results for social media, as opposed to results that simply contain the words "social" and "media" in the same document.

  3. Do you know how to use Teams Search?

    Microsoft Teams search is designed to help you quickly find the files you are collaborating on.

    From the main search box, you can search for:

    • Teams
    • Channels
    • Messages
    • People
    • Files

    If you start typing in the search box, you will see a dropdown with the main results that matches your query divided by type, prioritizing Teams and Channels:

    teams search dropdown
    Figure: Search results for "marketing"

    Tip: Apart from the little heading, as per the image above, you can recognize a Teams result when it only shows up the title, while a Channel result shows the title with the name of the associated Team underneath.

    Once you hit "enter", you will be directed to all results, separated by Messages, People, and Files tabs:

    teams search tabs
    Figure: Use the 3 built-in tabs to search through the different types of results

    Tip: After hiting "enter", to see the Teams and Channels results, simply click the search box again.

    You may use built-in filters to refine your search under each of the tabs:

    teams search filter
    Figure: Built-in filters for Messages

    Important: Even though Teams search gives you quick access to all your messages and documents; the search is scoped to Teams only, which means you cannot search for files hosted on SharePoint, OneDrive, other Office365 products (E.g. Delve/UserProfile), or external sources (E.g. sugarlearning.com).

    When you need to do a more extensive search, it is advised to use SharePoint search instead.

  4. Some people are really good at using Outlook search to find the emails they need, while others have a hard time. Searching for emails can be a real struggle, sometimes you want to find emails from months ago but you aren't sure exactly what to search for.

    Being able to find an email quickly in Outlook is an important skill. Here are some tips and tricks about how to find that email buried in your inbox...

    Note: These tips will also help you in your Google/Bing searches too.\

    Scenario

    Let's take an example scenario and see what tips we can use to search. Last month, you got an email in your inbox from your manager Bob about making changes to how you see data in his Northwind website.

    Tip 1: Give the person you are talking to the focus

    If you get 10 calls a day, you should be using this tip 10 times a day. When you get a call from Bob, before he has finished saying "how are you" you should have already typed in the search box and be looking at his most recent emails.

    To get Bob's most recent emails the best thing to do, is to limit Outlook to only your inbox folder and only emails from Bob by:

    • Change the folder to "Current Folder"
    • Search for:    from:Bob

    Note #1: You can change the folder scoping to fit your specific needs.

    search scope
    Figure: There are several scoping options available

    Note #2: You can change the default to always be "Current Folder".

    outlook search options
    Figure: Outlook Options for Search, have been changed to “Current Folder”

    Tip 2: Focus on the person (i.e. to: from: cc: bcc:)

    There are many different ways to focus on people. If know that the email was sent to Adam, from Bob, Luke was CCed and Chris was BCCed then:

    • Search for:    to:Adam from:Bob cc:Luke bcc:Chris

    Tip 3: Focus on the subject (i.e. subject:)

    If you have a good idea of what the email subject contains, then the "subject:" scope can help a lot. For example, if you know that the email had Northwind and Bob in the subject then:

    • Search for:    "Subject: Northwind Bob"

    Tip 4: Use negatives (i.e. –)

    Negatives are a great way to remove results you know definitely won't be relevant. For example, if you know Luke and Adam frequently work with Bob but weren't involved in that email then:

    • Search for:    -Luke -Adam

    Note: Start with a broad search, and then, when you start seeing irrelevant results about invoicing, add -invoice to your search

    Tip 5: Use quotation marks (i.e. “”)

    You can search for a direct match in an email using quotation marks. For example, if you know that "days outstanding" was written in the email then:

    • Search for:    "days outstanding"

    Note: Particularly useful when using common words but you know they were written in an exact phrase. E.g. “on top of this”

    Tip 6: Combine 2 searches into 1 (i.e. OR)

    Sometimes you might know a specific thing was referred to, but aren't sure what terminology was used. For example, let's say you know the email mentioned either "web app" or "website". In that case:

    • Search for:    "web app" OR website

    Note: Must be upper case... lowercase “or” won’t work

    Tip 7: Find a file (i.e. hasattachments:yes)

    Emails can be filtered to only include ones with attachments. If you know the email has an attachment then:

    • Search for:    hasattachments:yes

    Tip 8: Find a file’s content (i.e. attachment:)

    File contents can also be searched. If you know that there was an attachment that contained the text "20/07/2021" then:

    • Search for:    attachment:"20/07/2021"

    Note: You must enter dates in USA format #ouch

    Tip 9: Focus on the date received (i.e. received=<>)

    You can filter on a specific time period or date. For example, If you know that the email was received after 07/20/2019 then:

    • Search for:    received>"07/20/2019"

    Note #1: You must enter dates in USA format #ouch

    Tip 10: Recent Searches

    If you know you found an email before, but you can’t seem to find it again, try clicking on Recent Searches to scroll through your latest searches.

    outlook recent search
    Figure: Easily find your recent searches


    More Info: Outlook has a heap of other properties that you can filter on.

    email metadata
    Figure: Outlook has a lot of meta data filtering options

    Learn more: How to search in Outlook.

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