The new University search system

Stephen Evans
Thursday 6 December 2018

During the week beginning 17 December 2018, the University search system will be replaced. The current search system, Google Search Appliance (GSA), will no longer work after 31 December 2018 as Google no longer provide support for this. Instead, we will launch a new system called Funnelback provided by a company called Squiz.

The Funnelback system offers a number of enhancements over GSA, which will allow us to continue our incremental improvements of the University website to ensure it meets the needs of its users.

Google Search Appliance (GSA)

At the top of all University webpages is a box that allows users to search the University website. For example:

Example search box with DPL styling

Entering a search term will take you to a search results page like this:

Example of old search results

The current search results list has navigation links on the left, the ability to search within a collection and key matches shown in blue boxes at the top of the page.

The page is not optimised for mobile usage, which means there is a disjointed user experience when going from, for example, the University home page to the search page.


The usability testing we carried out on the current search system aided us when we created a new look and feel for the search results, so that it would be easier for users to find information. For example, the new search page can be viewed on different devices.

Desktop view

This is how it looks on a desktop:

Example of search on desktop

Mobile friendly

This is how it would look on a mobile phone:Example of search on mobile


Another enhancement is autocomplete, so that when you start to search it provides suggestions. For example:

Example autocomplete

Future enhancements

Funnelback is a very powerful system that will allow us to provide a number of additional features in the future. For example, Funnelback provides ‘facets’ that allow users to search within a particular subset of the results. GSA had this feature too, but with Funnelback it is easier to configure.

Funnelback also comes with a marketing dashboard that will allow us to evaluate the best way to provide appropriate search results and to provide information for queries that don’t return any search results.

If you have any questions about the new search system, please email [email protected]

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