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The Future of Search: 7 Search Engines You Should Try

March 18, 2008 by  

Ms DeweyThe most popular search engines, Google, Yahoo, Live and Ask, continuously tweak the user interface to provide more useful and relevant details. But essentially the user still has to scan a lot of text before reacting. According to some sources, 80-85% of users don’t navigate past the first page of search results.

Various attempts at creating better visual search interfaces have emerged, but none have grabbed lion share of the market as the major engines.

Potential challenges:

  • Retraining users to think in more visual terms after so many years of being accustomed to text-based search.
  • The results displayed may lack the details that help decision making. Seeing screenshots of home pages does not necessarily give confidence that the correct answer will be found on the page/site.
  • Visual search results take longer to display on the end-user’s computer than text. Although 70-80% of U.S. households may have some level of broadband connection, it doesn’t mean that results are snappy in all instances.
  • Visual search interfaces don’t often translate well to mobile devices that operate on slower network connection speeds.

Regardless of how the results are displayed, if the search tactics and algorithms aren’t sophisticated enough, the results wont be relevant and the user experience will be poor. Greater care needs to be put into quality of the user experience to get the user where he/she needs to go as swiftly and accurately as possible.

I encourage you to check out the search engines below. They may not replace what you are currently comfortable with, but they are surely inspiring.

Searchme
http://www.searchme.com
Choose a category, and you’ll see pictures of web pages that answer your search. You can review these pages quickly to find just the information you’re looking for, before you click through. Skimming through the website images is very similar to Apple’s “cover flow” interface.

RedZee
http://www.redzee.com
Like Searchme, a user scans through screenshots of website home pages.

Ms. Dewey
http://msdewey.com/
Ms DeweyCertainly not new. This experiment has been around at least two years that I recall. Perhaps you haven’t come across it yet. Ms. Dewey interacts with the user and gets impatient while waiting for you to interact with her.

Hint: Try typing in “art” or “E-40” or just click the “Best of Dewey” button to see some of the personality shine through.
By the way, the “MS” stands for Microsoft. (Get it?)

Quintura
http://www.quintura.com
A visual “find” engine, the user visually navigates a cloud of keywords and drills down to find relevant information. It’s sort of like clicking on tag clouds that have several layers of depth to niche down the topic.

KartOO
http://www.kartoo.com
A meta search engine with results presented as an interactive map.

Like.com
http://www.like.com
Shop visually for shoes, clothing and jewelry by using shapes, styles, colors and more.

oSkope
http://www.oskope.com
A visual search assistant that lets the user browse and organize items from Amazon, Ebay, Flickr, Fotolia, Yahoo! and YouTube in an intuitive way.

Have a favorite search engine you’d like to share? Please add your comment below.
Thanks.
-Roland

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