What is an Answers Experience| Hitchhikers Platform
What You’ll Learn
In this section, you will learn:
- What is an Answers Experience
- How an Answers Experience works with both the Knowledge Graph and Pages
- What is an Answers Search Configuration (Answers backend)
- What is an Answers Frontend (built with Pages)
What Makes up an Answers Experience
An Answers experience is a search experience powered by Yext Answers. These experiences are optimized to help consumers get answers to their questions. Most Answers experiences leverage Natural Language Processing (NLP), which uses artificial intelligence to put text or speech into context. NLP enables Yext Answers to produce relevant results no matter how the question is asked.
Think of the following searches (also referred to as queries):
- Taco restaurant near me
- Find a mexican joint near me
- I’m looking for a burrito near me
These are all looking for the same answer. NLP allows us to parse out the relevant words in each of the queries and return the correct results each time, despite the question being asked in multiple ways.
Answers experiences can come in all shapes and sizes, whether you’re answering questions across your entire website, building separate experiences for each of your sub-brands, or building a single-vertical experience just for your locations or your jobs.
When we talk about a Yext Answers Experience specifically, we’re referring to an instance of Answers, which is made up of 3 things:
- A backend Search Configuration containing business rules for the search Algorithm specific to your account
- A Front End that displays structured search results, built using Yext’s Pages product
- Entities or facts about your brand stored in Yext’s Knowledge Graph or sourced from an external data source
If you have all three, you have an Experience! You can integrate the same Experience anywhere on your site, even on multiple domains, as long as you want to have the same Answers to questions. Each Answers experience has a specific set of entities, a set of configuration and branding rules, and styling. You also have the option to create multiple Answers experiences if you want the results, and styling to vary across the experiences.
For example, here at Yext, we have at least three separate Answers Experiences delivering different types of answers for you, our customer!
Yext Experience: Lives on Yext.com, and is also integrated on many of our marketing campaign or event sites.
Hitchhikers Experience: Lives on our Hitchhikers site, both on our learning portal and Community, as well as the Yext Help Center.
Our ONWARD Experience: Used on the event site for our annual user conference, ONWARD.
These are all powered on top of the same Knowledge Graph, using over 15 different types of entities and containing at least three separate Third Party Verticals (more on what that means later). However, they’re separate Answers experiences because we wanted different content, styling and search behavior between the Yext website, Hitchhikers and the Help Center, and the Onward site.
During this training you’ll learn how to build two of your own Answers search experiences for the beloved Turtlehead Tacos brand.
Backend of Answers
All Answers experiences are controlled by a Search Configuration that contains all of the business specific logic needed for the Answers algorithm to deliver answers exactly how you want them. The frontend tells the system what the results should look like, but the Search Configuration + the Algorithm tell the system what the results should be.
In the Answers training track, you’ll learn all about how to create and manage a Search Configuration. This includes:
- Specifying which entity types and fields in the algorithm are searchable
- Doing cool things like boosting and sorting results
- Adding synonyms specific to your brand
- Creating rules for displaying Search Term suggestions and prompts
Frontend of Answers with Yext Pages
When you ask a question, you want to actually see the results, right? That’s what the frontend does — it determines what the user sees when they ask a question. This includes how the results page is structured, what each results card looks like, and other optional features you can use like facets or Q&A.
With Answers, the display of the cards are separate from the fields that are searched via the Search Configuration. For example, you could display the business hours on a location card, but choose not to have hours be searchable in the algorithm. Inversely, you could also choose to make hours searchable in the algorithm, but not display on the card.
While you will not need to use the Answers API or the Answers SDK directly to build an Answers experience as an Admin, it’s important to know that they exist. Developers may choose to build on these when we make them available (date TBD), but our Pages integration with the Answers SDK makes it easy for someone with basic knowledge of HTML/CSS/JS to build an Experience end-to-end. Through this training, you’ll become an expert in how to build an experience and learn the basic technical skills needed to make it look great.
While you learned a lot about how to build pages using the Page Builder in the Pages track, with Answers you build using Yext’s Custom Development for Pages. Answers development uses Jambo, our static site generator (SSG) that relies on the JAMStack architecture. You’ll learn all about Jambo and how to use it in Frontend Overview module.
In this training, you’ll learn all about how to:
- Create an Answers site
- Create and build on a Github Repository
- Use Jambo tools to customize the look, style and layout of your frontend
- Update how data is mapped from the Knowledge Graph to the result cards
Once you’ve built an Answers experience in Yext, you can decide how you want to host the Experience. You can do this one of two ways: either on a Yext-hosted subdomain (included), or on a page that you host in your CMS (whether it’s AEM, Wordpress, Sitecore - or any other!) and embed the Answers Experience on the page. You’ll learn more about this in the Integration module.
The Answers Algorithms
So you have a frontend, you have a Search Configuration to define business rules – but what actually traverses the Knowledge Graph and determines the result set? The Answers Algorithms!
The three algorithms (you will learn more about all three in our Algorithm Overview module) are the “special sauce” that combines the information provided in the configuration with the relevant data in the Knowledge Graph (or other Third Party Vertical backend) to determine the best answer for a given query. Yext’s Product and Engineering teams are constantly analyzing, improving and optimizing the Answers Algorithms to make sure that we can deliver a world-class search experience to our customers.
You’ll learn all about how the algorithm works, including how query tokenization, geobiasing, NLP, machine learning, and more can impact search results in the Answers Algorithm module. For now, it’s important to remember that it exists for the purpose of identifying the best results for each query.
Answers Expands Beyond Site Search
While many of the modules and challenges in this training focus on the site search use case for Answers, it’s important to remember that the underlying technology can be applied to several other business use cases such as chatbots, Help site search, internal (intranet) search, and many others. All of these new use cases are made possible by new ways to build and new features of the Spring Release ‘21, such as a low-level APIs and document search.