Stories

AllTrails

Uses Algolia to deliver offline search to their users no matter where they are

About AllTrails

Your guide to the outdoors

5M registered members
20M website users in 2016
32M iOS & Android sessions in 2016

Highlights

Problem

AllTrails wanted to enable their users to search through their 50,000+ trail guides even when they were already outdoors and without stable network connectivity.

Approach

AllTrails leveraged Algolia Offline for their iOS & Android apps, allowing them to switch seamlessly between online & offline search depending on internet access.

Result
1.4M
search queries/day
16 ms
Avg. Response Time

Alltrails aims to make the outdoors more accessible for beginners and expert hikers alike. Since 2010, AllTrails has been connecting millions of outdoor enthusiasts with the largest collection of detailed, hand-curated trail maps as well as trail reviews and photos crowdsourced from their community of 5 million registered hikers, mountain bikers and trail runners.

Filters & synonyms are key

In order for users of all experience and ability levels to benefit from their service, AllTrails needs to enable their users to quickly and easily find the right hike for them. Search plays a big role in how users find the perfect trail to hike, ride, or run - the ability to filter by preferences like difficulty, length, or star rating allow users to focus in on the one perfect trail for them amongst the 50,000+ options. Users with more specific needs can filter by whether a trail is kid friendly, dog-friendly, or accessible for wheelchairs. Finding hikes that perfectly fit your needs is now possible in a matter of seconds by combining AllTrails’ unique trail knowledge and review data with Algolia’s hosted search API.

Search is core to the AllTrails experience. They began using Algolia a few years ago on their desktop website. In addition to filtering, typo-tolerance and lightning-fast results, AllTrails leverages our synonyms feature so that whether someone searches for “Mt Shasta” or “Mount Shasta” they’ll still get the same set of search results.

For AllTrails CMO Ron Schneidermann, “The key for us is to ensure that we make it as easy and efficient as possible for our users to search within our dataset and find the trail that’s right for them.”

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Several platforms, one great search experience

With Algolia performing well on desktop, the next great challenge was bringing an equally powerful search to their iOS & Android apps. With 32 million iOS & Android sessions in 2016, neglecting mobile search was not an option for AllTrails. Synonyms & filtering had become key to the website experience and AllTrails CEO Jade Van Doren wanted to bring these features to every device.

Algolia Offline helps AllTrails users explore our 50,000+ hand-curated trail guides from even the most remote places in the world.

Allowing everyone to find the perfect trail, no matter where they are

Changing search on mobile was an opportunity to bring something the team had in mind for a long time: mobile search available anywhere and anytime, even with low bandwidth or no bandwidth at all. In the mountains, forests or countryside, internet connection isn’t a given. Checking the trails you want to explore beforehand is an option but having access to trail information is always more useful when you’re actually on the trail.

Their developers added this function with their own version of offline search, but it was difficult to maintain and did not provide the same great experience that users had come to expect. “Rolling your own in-house solution is not something anyone wants to be doing when you have great plugin APIs like Algolia.” says Jade Van Doren. Adding Algolia on the mobile apps was the perfect opportunity to try out Algolia Offline. Jade Van Doren drove this project personally and got collaborators on board with him to add this brand new experience to their mobile search.

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From idea to implementation in under a month

It took less than a month for the AllTrails team to implement Algolia on both their iOS and Android app. The mobile developers spent 2 weeks on the project and an additional week was needed to configure server resources.

When the AllTrails team had difficult decisions to make, they relied on Algolia’s engineers to help them. “Algolia really understood our challenges and their responsiveness was fantastic,” says Jade. “Algolia was committed to ensuring our success. We felt like we had a partner with us throughout the journey. Algolia has been critical to our success in this implementation.”

With Algolia Offline on their mobile apps, AllTrails now provides hikers with the information that matters most to them no matter where they are. For Ron, “Algolia Offline helps AllTrails users explore our 50,000+ hand-curated trail guides from even the most remote places in the world.”

Algolia really understood our requirements and their responsiveness was fantastic. Algolia was committed to ensuring our success to get across this finish line. We felt like we had a partner with us through the journey.

Evolving search over time

The search experience inside AllTrails will continue to evolve and adapt to the needs of their users, like improving member search so users can easily find their friends and family from the mobile app (this feature currently exists only on desktop). AllTrails will bring their users even closer thanks to search, and Algolia - both its engine & its engineers - will be there to support them as they grow.

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