Searching on Chowtimes

We received an email from a chowtimes reader (Eric) who asked us if there is a better way to look for restaurants on the site. In particular, Eric was asking if he could look for, say, all Chinese restaurants in Burnaby. Yes, you can … to a great extend.

I can understand Eric’s needs. Chowtimes had grown over the years with a large throve of information. Getting to what you want is not always easy.

diningout

We always had on the sidebar a listing of categories by cuisine. Over the many years, we had amassed quite a lot of restaurant reviews (almost 400 now). Some of the categories were too large. We wished we had the time to go back and revamp the categories but that would involve way too much work. The above is hierarchical view by categories.

metrovancouverrestaurants

As a short term solution, Suanne and I had spent a couple of days and categorized all restaurant reviews by the cities in Metro Vancouver. We are categorizing only Metro Vancouver because most of our restaurant review readers are from Vancouver. That list above may help a little.

But what I wanted to point out to you is our Tag Cloud.

tagcloud

The Tag Cloud is found at the bottom of the side bar. It is a complete list of tags (over 200 of them) which covers quite a lot of what we normally blog about. Tag are more powerful than categories.

usingtags

With tags you could combine tags to bring you the pages you want. For instance, if you want to look for Japanese restaurants in Richmond, the URL will be:

http://chowtimes.wordpress.com/tag/richmond+japanese/

OK, I know this is not particularly user friendly but it does get to what you want. If I find the time, some day, I will try to put in a more user friend tag search capability. For now, this is the best we could do.

googlesearch

But of course, you could always use the Google Search located at the top right of the page. The search is pretty good and will limit the results only to chowtimes’ contents. The seach is rather slow and takes at least 10 seconds to appear.

Let us know your thoughts and we’ll like to hear of your feedback on how to improve the site. Hope this helps.

Oh BTW, we also had feedback that the load times on chowtimes.com is very slow. You are right … we know that it’s not the fastest of sites. We had found two areas we could do to improve the loading time and had managed to cut it down from 60 seconds to 45 seconds (on our pretty fast computers on broadband). I know 45 seconds is still way too long. LOL!

Over the next week, I think we can cut down the load times down to 30 seconds. But that would only affect new postings. The load times of existing postings, unfortunately, will remain sluggish. We can change all old postings but it will take way too long to update each and every posts. So, we’ll leave it as it is. At least future ones will load much faster.

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