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RNIB – Development of faceted, cross-site search functionality

Royal National Institute of Blind People (RNIB): API integration with two external websites; AJAX-based, dynamically updated results page; Customisable filters and site content categorisation



The RNIB web estate spans multiple websites and the organisation seek to integrate content across these websites within the search results of the core www.rnib.org.uk website. The starting point for this ambition was to introduce products from RNIB’s online shop and FAQ material to the integrated search.


What we did

A collaborative effort between Panlogic, RNIB and relevant third parties allowed iterative progress through the design/UX process. In an agile fashion, a solution was providing a smooth user experience and customised around the technical opportunities and data available from the integration points of each system involved.

Development work required integration with two external websites. API wrappers were built, including one allowing requests for product details from RNIB’s eCommerce platform and present them as search results with all required product assets on RNIB’s Drupal website. To assist the solution development, Panlogic built proof-of-concept prototypes demonstrating the these systems integrations. This allowed Panlogic and the other technical agencies involved to iterate their work on the integration sprint in an agile manner before proceeding with the remaining build phases.

Panlogic made use of a Javascript library, ajax.solr, allowing the Drupal site’s powerful Solr search engine with an AJAX-based front end layout as part of RNIB’s custom Drupal theme. This allowed dynamic updating of the results using pagination, filtering and sorting without disruption to the user experience. Faceting was implemented with configuration made customisable in the Drupal admin panel.



The improved search functionality attracting traffic to the three RNIB websites and encouraged visitors to browse and purchase items from RNIB’s online shop – a helpful revenue driver.

Panlogic’s dynamic AJAX-based results page provided a smooth user experience. Site administrators were given flexibility to control faceting and independently manage the search functionality in light of content changes and visitor preferences in the future. In this respect, the search functionality is now synchronised with information architecture and prioritisation of content catering to audience needs.

Panlogic went above and beyond expectations with accessibility. WCAG 2.0 standards were achieved as a base requirement. In addition, ARIA tagging techniques and usage of ‘live regions’ were implemented to reflect the AJAX-based interactions to users of screenreaders and other assistive technology.