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Social Care Institute for Excellence (SCIE)

Migrating from a legacy search engine to Solr for enhanced website search


SCIE UK case studyThe Social Care Institute for Excellence (SCIE) is the UK's largest database of information and research on all aspects of social care and social work. SCIE’s website enjoys a large professional/academic user community of approximately 80,000 unique visits per month.

SCIE’s bibliography consists of over 150,000 items of information held in a Microsoft SQL 2008 database which grows at the rate of approximately 50 new entries per day, entered through an efficient data input tool. 

As the SCIE was looking to implement a new search system for its bibliography database, Search Technologies was selected to help carry out a seamless migration from the legacy database search system to a new breed of robust, agile search engine. 


The challenges that SCIE was aiming to solve with the migration were: 

  • Building value in their website features to fully transition from a solely free service to both a free and revenue generating service, ideally with a significant value proposition differential between the two areas to warrant users upgrading to the “paid for” service. 
  • Ensuring that migration and any innovative search implementation fit in with SCIE’s new “Invest to Save” ethos, allowing SCIE to better control costs over time, while de-risking technology choices and facilitating technology/skills consolidation.

Search Technologies needed to propose a plan for a low-risk migration methodology supported by several processes and technologies to achieve a powerful, flexible yet easy to maintain search subsystem using current best practices and modern technologies. Furthermore, the new platform needed to provide agility and extensibility over time to accommodate new requirements and data collections as the business continues to evolve.   


scie website search featuresBased on our comprehensive assessment of SCIE’s search infrastructure, we presented and implemented a complete solution, including:

  • A new search system powered by Solr search engine
  • Document processing methodology for search that helps with the fusion, normalization, and enrichment of data to be indexed into a search engine
  • Using the Aspire framework, Search Technologies’ high-performance, component-based system for document feeding and processing
  • Information visibility and understandability (to better understand the user journeys)
  • Assistive search features such as dynamic navigators (faceted search)auto completion drop downs, and synonym lists
  • Landing pages that present an individual user or specific community segment a view of the information in a contextually relevant way
  • Other best practices around Web 2.0 search interactions with users


The search engine migration and new feature implementation resulted in:

  • A robust and flexible “Indexing and Search” Platform
  • Centrally managed for fine grain control over all aspects of the solution
  • The facilitation of innovative Web 2.0 best practice and features, enhancing user satisfaction and brand loyalty
  • Easy integration into SCIE future aspirational technology stacks/services
  • An effective alignment with the new “Invest to Save” company ethos

Overall, the new search engine integrated well into the existing SCIE architecture. The new architecture and features not only provided website search best practice, with an intuitive and user-friendly experience, helping them build value in the service for expanding subscription-based users, but also to increase SCIE’s user satisfaction and brand loyalty. 


For further details about this project, please contact us