Should you decide to build a thesaurus for your web site, you’ll need to choose between three types: a classic thesaurus, an indexing thesaurus, and a searching thesaurus (Figure 9-20). This decision should be based upon how you intend to use the thesaurus, and will have major implications for design.
Figure 9-20. Types of thesauri
A classic thesaurus is used at the point of indexing and at the point of searching. Indexers use the thesaurus to map variant terms to preferred terms when performing document-level indexing. Searchers use the thesaurus for retrieval, whether or not they’re aware of the role it plays in their search experience. Query terms are matched against the rich vocabulary of the thesaurus, enabling synonym management, hierarchical browsing, and associative linking. This is the full-bodied, fully integrated thesaurus we’ve referred to for much of this chapter.
However, building a classic thesaurus is not always necessary or possible. Consider a scenario in which you have the ability to develop a controlled vocabulary and index documents, but you’re not able to build the synonym management capability into the search experience. Perhaps another department owns the search engine and won’t work with you, or perhaps the engine won’t support this functionality without major customization.
Whatever the case, you’re able ...