When thinking about some enterprise search use cases that require planning and implementation, presentation of search results is not often high on the list of design considerations. Learning about a new layer of software called Documill from CEO and founder, Mika Könnölä, caused me to reflect on possible applications in which his software would be a benefit.

There is one aspect of search output (results) that always makes an impression when I search. Sometimes the display is clear and obvious and other times the first thing that pops into my mind is “what the heck am I looking at” or “why did this stuff appear?” In most cases, no matter how relevant the content may end up being to my query, I usually have to plow through a lot (could be dozens) of content pieces to confirm the validity or usefulness of what is retrieved.

Admittedly, much of my searching is research or helping with a client’s intranet implementation, not just looking for a quick answer, a fact or specific document. When I am in the mode for what I call “quick and dirty” search, I can almost always frame the search statement to get the exact result I want very quickly. But when I am trying to learn about a topic new to me, broaden my understanding or collect an exhaustive corpus of material for research, sifting and validating dozens of documents by opening each and then searching within the text for the piece of the content that satisfied the query is both tedious and annoyingly slow.

That is where Documill could enrich my experience considerably for it can be layered on any number of enterprise search engines to present results in the form of precise thumbnails that show where in a document the query criterion/criteria is located. In their own words, “it enhances traditional search engine result list with graphically accurate presentation of the content.”

Here are some ideas for its application:

  • In an application developed to find specific documents from among thousands that are very similar (e.g. invoices, engineering specifications), wouldn’t it be great to see only a dozen, already opened, pages to the correct location where the data matches the query?
  • In an application of 10s of thousands of legacy documents, OCRed for metadata extraction displayable as PDFs, wouldn’t it be great to have the exact pages of the document that match the search displayed as visual images opened to read in the results page? This is especially important in technical documents of 60-100 pages where the target content might be on page 30 or 50.
  • In federated search output, when results may contain many similar documents, the immediate display of just the right pages as images ready for review will be a time-saving blessing.
  • In a situation where a large corpus of content contains photographs or graphics, such as newspaper archives, scientific and engineering drawings, an instantaneous visual of the content will sharpen access to just the right documents.

I highly recommend that you ask your search engine solution provider about incorporating Documill into your enterprise search architecture. And, if you have, please share your experiences with me through comments to this post or by reaching out for a conversation.

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