Volkswagen UK’s Search Engine Powered by structWSF

It is now official, Volkswagen UK‘s search engine is now powered by structWSF. Their new contextual search engine has been released last Friday. I covered the underlying architecture in one of my recent blog post: Volkswagen's RDF Data Management Workflow.

 

 

John Streit, head of technology at Tribal DDB, described the two key advantages of using the structWSF (part of the Open Semantic Framework (OSF)) for their website in an interview with Wired UK:

The first is that it gives you a single place to access data. Streit explains: “Applications often need to retrieve data from multiple sources which adds complexity and development time. By using this technology we can get everything we need from a single place which drastically lowers development time and running costs.” Furthermore the exposure of data improves search and means that it can be repurposed in new and imaginative ways.

2 Responses to “Volkswagen UK’s Search Engine Powered by structWSF”


  1. 1 Ben Toth Dec 23rd, 2011 at 3:45 am

    OK but when I searched the VW site for a dealer in Cardiff it returned a blank results page. A Google search returned several results, plus maps and phone numbers

  2. 2 Frederick Giasson Dec 23rd, 2011 at 12:30 pm

    Hi Ben!

    Well, a few things to consider here. First, this kind of behavior from their search engine will really depends on the datasets they imported in the system (I have no idea what datasets/kind of information has been loaded so far). So, this will have a dramatic impact on what you will be able to search, and not.

    For example, if no retailers information has been added in any structWSF datasets, it is sure that no results will be returned. There are other strategies to fix that, but I have no idea if any of them have been put in place so far.

    So, one important thing to keep in mind with such structured data frameworks: it is the data that changes everything. Is the data in the system? Is the data properly defined using the proper ontologies? This is what will have the biggest impact on the user’s experience. Once this is in place, then the developers are able to use all the features of every endpoints to create a great user experiences.

    I just tested your usecase, and I can get something with a search for “Cardiff”:

    http://www.volkswagen.co.uk/search?query=Cardiff

    This suggests that they added some retailer information between the time you and I tested this search query.

    The third result points you to their special search engine used to find local retailers. This is something else about the VW UK web portal: they have a series of specialized search engines; here are the ones I found:

    (1) the normal search engine exposed on the top-right corner
    (2) this local retailer search engine
    (3) there is another one to find used cars
    (4) is there others?

    Maybe that some of this should be integrated together to improve the user experience, and the findability of all these different things. I don’t know if the next step is to merge all of them in the same place, but this is what OSF should helps them to do, since all the has been integrated and exposed in a series of endpoints (as John mentioned to the Wired UK).

    Hope it helps better understanding what is going on!

    Thanks,

    Take care,

    Fred




This blog is a regularly updated collection of my thoughts, tips, tricks and ideas about my semantic Web researches and related software development.


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