A computer system for performing searches on a collection of information includes a mechanism through which results from a search query are ranked according to user specified relevance factors to allow the user to control how the search results are presented. The relevance factors are applied to the results achieved for each query. That is, each item returned by the search has a set of attributes. Each of these attributes is assigned a weight according to the specified relevance factors. These weights are combined to provide a score for the item. Search results are provided to the user, ordered according to scores. The application of the relevance factors does not alter the query performed on the collection of information.