The ability to search a content-heavy website is something that visitors really value, but it’s not always been easy to achieve using Rapidweaver. The SimpleSearch stack solves this problem by allowing you to create a slick search box and results page without relying on a backend database. Here’s how it works.
First, on any page you want visitors to be able to search from, you add a SimpleSearch stack and set it to ‘Search Box’. Then, you create a separate page for search results and then add the stack to that but this time select ‘Search Box & Search Results’; both stacks types should then be linked to the results page in order for the process to work.
It’s at this point the real work begins because the SimpleSearch stack can’t magically index your site and then produce a set of results. Instead, you have to do the work yourself, constructing the search results you want visitors to be able to find entry by entry, by hand. Each one requires you to add a page title and description, the keywords people can search for and then the URL of the page that contains the keywords. If that sounds like it’s going to be a laborious process then it’s because we suspect that for the majority of Rapidweaver users, it will be – and we think that’s going to limit the appeal of this stack.
It shouldn’t, though, because as the stack’s author points out, you should be doing all this stuff anyway as part of your site’s SEO, and if that’s the case then it’s mostly going to be a cut and paste job, with a few manual additions.
The results are effective and impressive and – because you’re building the search results by hand yourself – infinitely tweakable. The results page is displayed in a neat list and automatically adds pagination at the bottom to handle multiple results pages. There are enough visual settings to make sure it can be styled to fit in with the rest of your site design, but not enough to make things overly fussy, you can set a minimum number of characters for the search box and also add placeholder text for those visitors who aren’t sure what to do.
With a tiny bit of tinkering you can also use SimpleSearch as a front end for external services like Google, IMDB and Wikipedia so visitors can search for soemthing directly from your website.
For those of a methodical bent who want the ability to add search to their websites without using a database, SimpleSearch is a clever solution; and it might just have the added benefit of encouraging you to look again at how you handle SEO as part of the process – which is always a good thing.
Note: SimpleSearch must be on a published site in order to work, either locally or on the web.