Monday, October 22, 2007

Bethel University (Google Mini)

Written by
Andy Altepeter
Manager of Web Development
Bethel University

Based in Arden Hills, Minnesota, Bethel University offers students a Christian higher education that integrates strong academic programs with a vital spiritual life and purpose. Approximately 5,600 students are enrolled in nearly 100 undergraduate, graduate, and seminary programs.

In our quest to improve search for both our web site and intranet, we needed to replace a customized free search engine that underperformed by delivering non-relevant results as the most relevant results. For example, a search for "Bethel University" consistently returned old, obscure news releases from our archives as the most relevant results.

After careful review of our needs, we determined the new search technology we would implement had to be 1) world-class technology, 2) affordable 3) easy to set up and easy to use and 4) familiar to users. For our money, the Google Mini was the obvious choice.

For our Google Mini deployment, we partitioned our web space into collections for both public and intranet use and provided a customized interface for both. Once out of the box, we had the Google Mini up and running in no time, and we now highly value the following features:

* Easy, but powerful configuration capabilities; down to the one button on the Mini that makes it very simple to use

* The ability to index our fileservers as well as intranet content. Getting
results from the fileserver is an unexpected benefit for our searchers. This
feature approximately doubled the anticipated number of indexed documents.

* The ability to view all indexed documents in HTML, and cached versions showing
highlighted keywords.

The Google Mini has truly delivered for Bethel University. Now instead of grumblings about our search engine, our web department consistently hears about how impressive our search capability is. And, our users are putting actions behind their words: we've seen the number of searches increase to approx. 800 searches per hour.