Improving the search engine functionality on the Church of England website

27/01/2021

The current Church of England website has now been live for more than three years and continues to serve on average, more than 487,000 unique visits every month. In 2020 alone, we've had nearly 12,650,000 sessions across the whole website, which equates to almost 26,800,000 page views.

These individual sessions each come with their own reason for visiting the website, such as:

  • A church administrator looking for the latest eco-church building guidance
  • A member of clergy searching for Additional Eucharistic prayers
  • A family looking to find out more about getting a child christened in their parish church
  • A new Christian wanting to understand more about the Anglican faith
  • And many, many more.

As part of the investment into the Church of England online platforms, first mentioned in this blog, we're pleased to share that the search engine functionality has been significantly updated to help visitors to the website find the information they are looking for.

There are a number of changes that you'll now notice when searching on the Church of England website, as well as many under-the-hood enhancements for our web editors. Here are some of the key elements that we've made changes to.

Updates to the search results page filters

Search improvements - New filters.
New filters are available on every search query.
 

We wanted to improve the general search experience with a system more relevant to the Church of England and what people are looking for, by breaking out search results into the most commonly requested categories:

  • Pages
  • Documents
  • News and stories
  • Liturgy

By providing a new filter system, we can better serve the most appropriate type of content to different people searching for different things. This immediately makes it much easier to filter down through the wealth of content across the website.

Updates to the search results listings display

Search improvements - Page search result example.
A regular page appearing as a search result.
 

Search result listings are now presented in a more user-friendly manner and also give further information, such as the type of content they are. Different results provide different information, depending on what's associated with that page.

Search improvements - Article search result example.
A blog/news page appearing as a search result.
 

This includes liturgical text pages, found under Common Worship and the Book of Common Prayer texts.

Search improvements - Liturgy search result example - BCP.
A Book of Common Prayer liturgical text page appearing as a search result.
 

Introducing spell check

Search improvements - Spell check search terms.
Spell check ensures spelling mistakes don't stop you finding content.
 

We've introduced a spell check tool, that helps people to locate relevant content, even if they misspell a word. The link available after Did you mean: provides an instant click-through to the search result page for that, now correctly spelt, word or phrase.

Highlighting 'Suggested content'

Search improvements - Promoted content.
Suggested content highlight at the top of search queries.
 

This new feature allows us to highlight important and often time-sensitive pages when people search particular terms across the website, ensuring we're serving them the most up-to-date information relevant to their search term. This could relate to:

  • Promoting the national Advent and Christmas campaign when someone searches 'Christmas resources'
  • Highlighting an important news release regarding the latest coronavirus guidance when someone searches 'covid rules for churches'
  • And all other manners of searches

Search and filters for liturgical texts

Search improvements - Liturgy search result example - CW.
Liturgical texts are now easily searchable.
 

Our liturgical texts have driven centuries of daily prayer and worship activities across the country and the world, so it's no wonder that the Prayer and Worship section is consistently one of the most popular areas of the website. Whilst it's always been possible to easily access our services of Daily Prayer through Common Worship and the Book of Common Prayer, we've made it simpler to search the Liturgical Texts as a whole, and also via either Common Worship or the Book of Common Prayer. 

 

As per our policy with the original website redesign in 2017, we have adopted a mobile-first policy. Mobile web traffic now accounts for 52.6% of global web traffic and so we need to ensure our developments are future-proofed and not just designed for the here and now. With this in mind, you'll encounter a consistent user experience across desktop, tablet and mobile devices.

Search improvements - Devices mockup.
The new search functionality is consistent across all different device types and optimised for mobile-first.
 

We're excited about how these changes will allow people to better locate the content they are searching for on the website and improve the general user-experience of browsing it as well. Combined with the menu updates we introduced in early November 2020, we're continually looking at the ways we can improve this online platform. These updates, excluding the Liturgy filters, are also available on the Archbishop of Canterbury and Archbishop of York websites, as we've invested in a common platform across these three national websites.

 

Ben Hollebon
Web and Insights Manager

Jenny Wilkins
Web and Analytics Officer

 

We really welcome your feedback on these improvements and changes. Do get in touch with us through the contact form below.

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The Archbishops' Council, Church Commissioners and Church of England Pensions Board are the three main operating bodies of the Church of England. The other National Church Institutions can be found on our website.