Since the redesigned Fingate website launched in 2020, Stanford Financial Management Services (FMS) has been continuously working to optimize the site to meet our users' needs. The site supports the Stanford community in quickly locating and understanding the policies, processes, and information needed to perform financial activities efficiently, accurately, and within compliance. In 2023, Fingate garnered an average of over 140,000 page views each month for a total of 1.7 million page views for the year.

Recent Fingate search improvements

In November 2023, enhancements were made to the search engine to ensure that users can efficiently and effectively locate specific guidance or information.

Search indexing

Improvements to search engine configurations supported more comprehensive indexing of the site’s content. Specifically, these enhancements focused on ensuring that nested content (sections within sections) were indexing and weighted appropriately to deliver comprehensive search results. Based on specific use cases and feedback from Fingate users, these enhancements were tested and have shown improved accuracy when locating a specific word or term in the site, with some areas of opportunity that have been identified for future refinements.

Enhancement Sample Screenshot

New search preview
A new search preview feature was added to the search results page. The feature displays several instances in how the search keywords are used within the page. This is a common feature used in other search engines and should assist Fingate users in quickly selecting the best page for their searches.

Fingate search results with search preview

Simplified search results filter
The left-hand filtering sidebar was simplified to provide the ability to sort by content type and activity. Previously, dozens of sub-activity filters were displayed. Examining the analytics showed that these filters were under-utilized, which resulted in the decision to simplify the user experience.

Fingate search results with filtering

Additional improvements: Site speed and accessibility

In early 2023, security improvements were made to Fingate that resulted in refinements to the site footer and other aspects of the codebase, which also resulted in improvements to site bandwidth and server processing speed. After the enhancements, monitoring shows that site loading speed improved by an average of 33%.

Ensuring that Fingate is accessible to all users is a top priority for FMS. Following guidance from Stanford Office of Digital Accessibility, improvements have been made to aspects such as heading structures and code elements to support screen readers and assistive technology. More improvements are planned in the coming year.

Next steps

If you ever have any questions or suggestions, feel free to send your feedback to @email.

Search Engine Improvements
Enhancement Sample Screenshot

Continually improving several Fingate search engine configurations such as resolving an issue when spaces were used in search queries for terms in the site that use hyphens such as year-end, month-end, non-po and so on. An internal FMS team assisted in conducting multiple rounds of testing that helped the developers in fine-tuning the search configurations to produce accurate results. Just in time for year-end close.

Year-End Close search

Improved Navigation and Layout Changes
Enhancement Sample Screenshot
  • Addition of mega menu to content pages: The mega menu is now available on almost all pages except for a few sub-sections of the site. 
  • Addition of active state indicator in main menu to help user track site navigation.
  • Improvements to breadcrumb navigation now include the full path through the site.
  • Updates to page layout were implemented, including the header of page moved down below the breadcrumb navigation, matched with corresponding icon/color treatment. With the addition of the mega menu to most pages, the related content box to the right has been replaced with related news.
Webpages with the main menu and news block
How To and Reporting pages have been updated to display any associated content to the right hand of the page content, rather than at the top.
How To pages with the Associated How To block in right hand sidebar

Site Speed, Reduced Pop Ups and Search Improvements
Goal Action Plan
Improve search capability (Completed on March 2, 2022) The Fingate team updated the configurations of the Fingate search engine to improve the indexing of keywords from all sections of the site. Previously the search was limited to scan specific sections of a page. Search queries now produce more relevant matches that are provided within the search results by relevance. This is a significant improvement that has fixed the issue of certain keywords that produced zero results. Thanks to continued feedback from website users, ongoing improvements to the search engine continue through analyzing the search metrics and fine tuning the search configurations. Users can share examples of search queries that did not produce relevant results to inform future updates by filling out this feedback form.
Reduce pop-ups and "density" of the site (Completed - February 2022) Feedback from users indicated a desire for minimal interruptions to the experience. Notably, the pop-up tours through the site were not adding value for many users and were, instead, detracting from the experience. As a result, the pop-up tours have been disabled.
Improve site speed and responsiveness (Completed - January 2022) The Fingate team constantly monitors site speed and discovered some opportunities to reduce loading time for scripts running during each user session. With some code refinements and bug fixes, site speed has been significantly improved, especially when navigating through the homepage.

Improved Search Functionality

The changes to search functionality include:

  • Screenshot of search results
    Re-configured the search engine: Now, the search engine will display all the results associated with any part of a phrase you entered into in the search query. This has significantly improved the number of relevant results generated by the search engine, especially when a user types in a search phrase that doesn't match exactly to a phrase in the site.

  • Screenshot of the autocomplete suggestions for search queries.
    Added suggested search terms functionality: As you are typing the first letters of their search query, a list of suggested search terms based on available results will automatically display for you to select from. This is a common functionality in other search engines to assist the user with targeting their search request.


Enhancements launched on August 12

The second round of search enhancements included more improvements focused on usability and to provide a more holistic search experience:

  • Search modal screenshot
    Quicker search entry: In the full-screen search modal, which is activated by clicking on the “Search” button in the top right corner of the site, the cursor is now immediately active in the search text field and users can type their search query without having to either tab multiple times or move their mouse cursor to the text field. This change greatly enhances the accessibility and usability of the search.
  • Consolidated search: Also in the full-screen search modal, the radio buttons to limit your search to just the site or the newsroom have been removed. The search engine will now display results containing items such as announcements and newsletters. This change is a result of feedback that users did not know which radio button to choose, or, in some cases, had not been aware that there was a differentiation in the content type they were searching for.
  • Search results filtered with news option
    New search filter: To support the consolidated search, we have added a new filter in the search results pages, to narrow or widen results by news content type in the left hand sidebar.

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