Improving search functionality using AI

May 5, 2023

written by
Greg Ciro Tornincasa


A big success in one of our latest projects for Personalis is a robust search tool we created for the Resources section of the new website. On one page, users can easily search, filter, and discover a massive variety of content from news, blogs, events, publications and products, to assets like data sheets, brochures, infographics, posters, video and podcasts. The success of the tool was a clear result of our team collaboration between strategy, copywriting, design, UX, and development teams. Although I was close to the strategy and design of the section, I wasn’t as familiar with HOW we actually made it work so well. Enter Joren Mathews, our Lead Developer to answer some questions.


So, how DID we actually make the Search work so well? 

Because we used Algolia. [Have you spoken to a developer? Joren is a man of few words. He’s literal. I’ll dig deeper, promise.]


Great, what’s Algolia? 

Algolia is an AI-powered search API that you import data into. They provide a search and discovery platform with lots of intelligent features. [We’re getting deeper ya’ll.]


What are some of these intelligent features? 

So many things. It solves the pain of relevance tuning through AI. It learns what people search for even if they misspell it. If two things match the search query to a similar degree then it will weigh a popular result higher. Instant, relevant search results. And that’s just scratching the surface.


“there’s a lot of bad ways to do search. this isn’t one of them.”

— Joren Mathews


Are there other components that made the Resources search work so well?

Obviously it was a mix of everything with did including the overall user strategy and UX design. The whole search functionality is a single page experience with the single Algolia search component updating its configuration to filter results to specific sections. Update parameters on the instant search component depend on what tab or filter you select. We also use WordPress hooks to update the Algolia search data every time content is updated on the site. So the search results are always up-to-date.


So I suppose we’ll be using Algolia again—maybe on our own site?!

There’s a lot of bad ways to do search, THIS isn’t one of them. [That’s a big yes from Joren.]