Search solutions for portable media
You’ve probably heard it already: “People on the web do not read. They Scan.” However, did you notice a similar trend when it comes to reading product manuals? Do you have an impression that reading manuals is the last resort?
Personally, when I have a question about a new tool I’m using and I can’t find an answer scanning through its manual in 30 seconds, I fire search on Google. (I know, it’s not ideal but it’s fast.) If I’m out of luck with Google, I get back to the product documentation. If I can’t find an answer in the next few minutes I’m on my way to support desk.
This is not isolated behavior and, as a result, you have your support desk pulling their hair of because they have a pile of questions that are already answered in your documentation.
Implementing portable search solution
If your documents are distributed on some form of portable media (e.g. CD or even zip file that can be downloaded from your web site) there’s no reason not to include a search engine with it. In fact, in today’s world, an average user expects that. It would make both your users happier and life easier to your support desk.
There are several options for doing this.
Second, there are solutions that offer real search engine features but require installation of a specialized software on user’s system. This is rarely acceptable and even non-functional if your publication is installed online (e.g. shared network location or client’s internal web server).
- user interface is completely in HTML so to users it looks just like a “traditional” web search engine,
- can be easily customized, integrated with your existing portable site, or translated,
- works transparently from a local hard drive, a CD/DVD, network disk and a web site,
- it is cross-platform and zero footprint, requiring no installation on the end-user’s hard drive,
- end-users need just a (relatively modern) web browser and Java installed.
There’s one problem, though: Development of such a solution is a fairly complex task. Working around different browser quirks and compatibility issues (or “features”) is a story of its own and can be really daunting experience. We know this well as we’re doing it for more than 10 years constantly improving our QuestAgent search engine.
QuestAgent is a portable search engine. It was designed for offline use; except that “offline” is used in somewhat broader sense here. It means that QuestAgent can get along with any standalone collection of documents distributed and independent of any particular web server.
QuestAgent is used with different kinds of electronic publications, from CD’s with conference materials to offline databases to product manuals distributed online. Our client base includes small individual electronic publishers, as well as Fortune 500 corporations and government agencies.
Deploy QuestAgent search engine with your product documentation and remove load from your support desk. Your users will be happy being able to find their way through your product. Not only that they’ll find matching documents but QuestAgent will highlight requested words and phrases and automatically scroll opened document to their first appearance.
Get first-hand impression now checking out our live QuestAgent demo!