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Switching off our old search service

Posted by: , Posted on: - Categories: Continuous iteration, Data and search,, Unity without uniformity

A screenshot of the new search service

On the 6 September last year, we turned on a new search service for On the 19 January we'll switch off the ‘old service’ for all our users and we'll be fully decommissioning the service by the end of January.

Unified search experience

Parliament currently has various search functions (on the website and the intranet, for example) and our vision is to offer a unified search experience. We want to make sure that we show better results for everyone with an interface that’s relevant and understandable.

Which search are people using?

When we launched the new search service, we gave users the choice of viewing their search results on the old service. This was to safeguard against any problems with the new service, and give users a chance to adjust and feedback.

In a typical day, 4% of user sessions that involve searching have viewed at least one of their searches on the old service.

Listening to feedback

User feedback, via a survey on the old service, indicates some users are simply interested in comparing the two searches. Others are looking for features that aren’t available in either service, and we’re using this feedback to make changes (like document type, for example pdfs).

There is, however, likely to be a group of users who prefer the old service. We're encouraging them to get in touch for support on using other search services.

Reduced costs and increased performance

Decommissioning the old search service will be the last part of a recent migration of Parliament's website search services to new platforms. The migration reduces the cost of running these services and we're already making savings. Estimates put the savings at 90 - 95% of the previous cost.

The new platform also offers improved performance, with users of internal search reporting the results load faster and less timing out waiting for complex queries.

Next up

We’ll be releasing more hints and continuing to look at how people use our search. Look out for future posts to find out what we’ve learned and how search is changing.

Read more posts from the data and search team

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  1. Comment by Ude posted on

    Can you pls elaborate on "reducing costs" ? How are these "costs" calculated etc.?

    • Replies to Ude>

      Comment by Liz Thomas posted on

      Hi Ude

      We’re making savings by moving supplier and moving away from the ‘platform as a service’ model.

      The cost of the old search service was primarily attached to the virtual machines (VMs) which hosted the different search functions. In migrating the service we’ve reduced 4 VMs to 1 and moved some functionality to cloud applications (SaaS).

      The savings are estimated based on what we were spending compared to what we will be spending after the old website service VM is decommissioned. The hosting costs of these service are mostly fixed, with some variation depending on data used within the service. This has allowed us to make the calculation with the assumption that the new service consumes as much data as the previous.

      Hope that answers your question


  2. Comment by Ude posted on

  3. Comment by Hal posted on

    To whom it concerns,

    Can you please advise whether (a) you plan to maintain access to historic Hansard and (b) whether you will fix the word search function on historic Hansard ?

    Kind regards

    • Replies to Hal>

      Comment by Louise Duffy posted on

      Hi Hal,

      Thanks for your comment. I've passed it on to the relevant team and they'll be in touch with you directly about the Historic Hansard site.

      Best wishes,

  4. Comment by SAL posted on


  5. Comment by John L Markham posted on