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Welcome to a peek behind the TechRepublic scenes

In the very first "peek behind the scenes" post, Senior Product Manager Brandon Seltenrich shares news about upcoming search improvements on TechRepublic, thanks to Google's Custom Search Engine.

The process of redesigning a large commercial web site is akin to the political process. There are many constituents and stakeholders that need to be heard and, often times, compromises to be made. This doesn't mean that the when the site finally does go live, the results can't be great. They can, and in the case of TechRepublic's latest redesign, they are.

For example, in the month since our relaunch, we've seen user visits and membership sign-ups go through the roof. Sharing via social networks like Facebook and Twitter have similarly peaked. And the time that you all, our users, spend on the site reading and engaging with our content has increased as well.

We're proud to have been able to bring you the new site, and we're grateful that you've embraced it — but most of all, we appreciate your feedback. Delivering a site redesign is not a one-time ordeal that we finish and then move away from. Launching the site is just the first step of the process. Listening to you is the next step, and we have been. As many things as we believe we've done right in the redesign, we know that there are other things we haven't. You've made no bones about telling us that, and we thank you for it.

I'll be penning these posts in an effort to help you see a bit behind the curtain, as it were. We want you to know that we've heard you loud and clear, and we want to tell you what we're doing about it. In each post, I'll focus on one or two items that we're actively working on right now for the TR community. I'll also try to give you some background information on how we work to bring you our sites.

Let's start with a little background: Why does it sometimes take so long for fixes and changes to make it onto the site? Like many media companies, the people who work to bring you one product are also working on several others. Behind the scenes at TR, many staffers, myself included, work on various other projects and properties — mobile, community, social media, and even other sites. This shared responsibility doesn't mean that we can't deliver you the best site possible, but it may require a tad more time to do so. Rest assured that we review all of your feedback and are working hard to make the changes you want to see so that your experience on our site only gets better.

One of those changes that we're working to bring you as soon as possible is better search.  Lean in for a moment, because I've got a secret to tell you. Our search sometimes isn't very good. Sure, it's great if you're looking for something within a narrow vertical, but we've got hundreds of thousands of pieces of content spread across blog posts, white papers, discussions, and more. On occasion, I even use Google to search our site. Soon, though, we'll all use Google — Google's Custom Search Engine (CSE) to be precise.

Google knows search, and they do it well. So, we shouldn't have to reinvent the wheel. As I write this, we have approximately 1,000 lemurs furiously working to integrate Google CSE into our site — or it may just be a handful of API engineers working on it... I can't quite remember the details. Either way, soon you'll see a remarkable enhancement in the usability of search on TechRepublic. We know that searching our site has long been a pain point for many users, and we're ecstatic about being able to deliver this new feature to you very soon.

When we roll out the search enhancements to the live site, we'll make an announcement so that you can begin taking advantage of them immediately. I look forward to being able to use this space to tell you about all of the great stuff we're working on for you. It's only with your continued active feedback that we can work to make the site the best it can be. Let us know how you'd best like us to use this space every week in the comments below.

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