Search is Moving – Fast!

The upgrade of ask.com last week marked a significant advancement in search engine interface design. It’s a massive brand change for the company that was formally the friendly face of search with ‘Ask Jeeves’ – now it’s leapfrogging the competition and making Google seem pretty antiquated in comparison.They’ve changed an awful lot since 1996, June 2007 marked the biggest interface change to ask.com since they took away the friendly P.G. Wodehouse butler.
ask.com has been around an incredibly long time – partnering with specialist search engine teoma in 2001 it’s specialized in natural language search. Eg. asking the search engine questions ” What is the largest lake in the world?” type questions.

With the redesign of ask.com they’ve introduced predictive text into the search to save on typing. They’ve also given users a choice of theme, but these initial aesthetic changes are nothing compared to what happens when you click the ‘search’ button.Changes that they’ve made to the search are something which which every single company who has an online presence needs to be aware of – these are changes that use features that I guarantee are going to be adopted in very similar form by every major search engine on the internet over the coming year.Searching for a natural language type question like the one above results in proving the answer next to a light bulb icon (representing facts), and corresponding movies and images on the right hand navigation pane. You don’t even have to click the movies to view them, just move your mouse over the movie to watch the first few seconds, or move your mouse over the images top view enlarged views of the images in order to make your selection easier. With the search results in the main window you just move your mouse of the binoculars icon to view a preview of the website that you’ll be taken to when visiting the link. It’s incredibly smooth, and intuitive.The thing is that exactly the same thing happens when searching for a company name or subject. Start searching for a major brand like Wrigley and before you’ve finished typing in the name the search box has listed your choices in its window – providing a list of keywords that relate to your typing. If the search engine has related videos, images, and Wikipedia entries that relate to your search they’ll also be displayed – In the case of Wrigley – you get various pack shots of chewing gum, the corresponding Wikipedia entry providing the history of Wrigley.

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These kind of search results are taking the advertising content to the extreme, and it’s way ahead of Googles direct inclusion of video into its search results. Not only are companies going to have to make sure that they have an adequate video that represents their brand inside a search engine, they’re also going to have to make sure that there is a corresponding video library and even wikipedia entries that relate to their product in order to cover all search bases.>> Matt

Posted in Media, Tech