Algolia is an exciting new hosted search service that provides instant search results as you type. The service is reliable, with a 99.99% uptime SLA and a distributed service network that delivers lightning fast results no matter where you are in the world. It provides an easy to use administration interface which allows you to quickly and easily check on the data and settings of your search indexes, as well as viewing analytics and logs. Pricing for such a powerful service is very reasonable, with plans starting from as low as $49 per month, putting it well within reach of smaller site operators.
With all these features in mind, we set out to develop a Magento extension that would allow merchants to provide instant search results for their customers. The extension replaces the existing search box in the header with an Algolia search box, which adds an autocomplete dropdown containing both category and product suggestions. The suggestions are updated in real-time with each keystroke, allowing customers to find what they’re looking for quickly and easily.
The search results page then provides real-time search results as the user updates their query, filters, sorts, pagination, or view modes. This allows them to immediately narrow their results and find the products that they are looking for without needing to wait for any page reloads. Categories will display in a tiered structure, allowing customers to drill down to find the specific categories they are looking for, while still providing context. Price filtering can be achieved using a slider, making it easy to experiment with different ranges.
To deliver maximum performance, search results are rendered on the client side using HandlebarsJS templates. Search result data is retrieved directly from Algolia, so there is no load placed on Magento and server resources are preserved for handling other requests. Templates for the default Madison Island theme are provided with the extension, however it is intended that these would be modified to match your own designs.
Several additional features are included, such as Google Sitelinks search box integration, allowing users to search your site directly from Google search result pages and land on your Algolia internal search results page. A custom widget allows a search input to be inserted into CMS content, which is great for prompting users to search on pages like an empty cart or 404.
The integration with Algolia has been designed to honour Magento's native search configuration settings, including multi-store functionality. Saving products will immediately update Algolia indexes with the new data, reducing the chance of incorrect pricing or availability information being displayed on search result pages.
A rich set of options are available to customise the search experience. These include being able to configure synonyms, adjust the instant search input delay, and order search attributes. The extension installs a new index in the backend separate from the standard "Catalog Search Index". When it is necessary to completely rebuild the search index, a common problem with Magento's core search services and other solutions is that the index will be emptied when the reindex begins. For the duration of the reindexing operation, the index will be in an inconsistent state and any search results will not include products that have not been indexed yet. To address this, our extension builds a temporary index while the old index is left in place, and when the reindex operation is complete, the newly created index replaces the old, seamlessly providing consistent and complete updated search results without interruption.
The Fontis Algolia Magento extension delivers a superior search experience. With lightning fast, accurate and relevant results, your customers will find the products they are looking for more easily than ever.