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Here at Beacon we use Nextopia to provide search results on several of the sites that we support. They do a great job of supplying an easy to use search solution for your site. There are several different ways to get the Nextopia search results content on your pages. You can make the search calls via java script snippets on your page. When called this way, Nextopia will replace content on your page with their search results. You can also use their API to initiate a search. The API returns an XML document which you can parse and display the results however you please. In addition to traditional search page listings, we have used the API to show Nextopia search results in couple of other interesting ways. I’ll go over these below.
You can use Nextopia to display a product filtering area. This in itself isn’t surprising. The API call to Nextopia returns both product results and filtering (or refinement) information that allows users to drill down to more specific products. However, you don’t have to limit the filtering area to a search results page. You can include it on any page that you want. For example, we have set up this “filtering nav” on several ASPDotNetStorefront sites. Storefront doesn’t have an out of the box filtering solution that you can use to narrow the results on the “category” or “brand” pages. However, if your site is already using Nextopia, you can call the API from the listing page (or xml package for an ASPDotNetStorefront site), passing in the category (or brand) name. You’ll get a nice “filtering nav” in the refine results area of the data returned by Nextopia. Stripping just that “filtering nav” from the search results allows the page to use the storefront code to display the products or sub categories associated with the top level category (this helps in search engine visibility) and gives users a way to quickly navigate to the products they might be interested in.