Earlier this year, I had written a post on how the search paradigm is changing while the majority of the search users remain on the classic way of searching on traditional search engines. Now that the web search is also about searching for images, people, multimedia content, maps, address, directories (and not just HTML pages), the search engine user interfaces need some changes as well – and in fact, they are changing!
Innovative Search Engines
The following are some of those innovative search engines that provide intuitive user interfaces and alternative SERPs presentation methods. None of them actually have any significant market share but you never know how things change in the future.
Search Me provides one of the most interesting user interfaces to render the SERPs as a set of flip pages. You can browse through the pages very fast and click the one that looks like the one you want. The advantage here is that you get to see the content (especially useful for image search and the sites that you are familiar with). The result set, though looks like a screen shot, has the search strings highlighted on it. Moreover, you can hover on the highlighted page to get the classic search page data (URL, title and excerpt). The result set shown is rendered via flash for a very intuitive search experience. Looks like SearchMe has cached several screen shots of static pages while it dynamically renders pages that change periodically.
Search me also offers category specific (blogs, images, video, music, news) search like most popular search engines do but it offers many more categories than the usual ones.
Scoopler claims to be a real-time search engine. What does it mean? It simply means that the aggregation and indexing of the web pages happens as and when they are available (or changed). Scoopler does this by indexing live updates from social media, social networks etc. While traditional search engines crawl at a predefined time or frequency, scoopler indexes it as and when it gets alerted. This approach may be useful for aggregating social media/network updates but I am not sure how effective it will be to index traditional website/blog contents.
Search-Cube provides yet another visually appealing search result set in the form of a cube of pages. The cube can be flipped, rotated or page-skipped using keyboard arrow keys or mouse. Rendering is flash based and using thumbshots. I did not quite like the usability of it but the SERP cube looks awesome. The quality of the search results are not that good as well compared to the other second-tier search engines.
I had talked about LeapFish sometime ago. Leapfish provides an AJAX based search interface that simultaneously searches Google, Yahoo and MSN and renders the most appropriate consolidated result set from all those search engines. In addition, it categorizes the output very nicely as web page results, images, news, answers, videos etc.
ViewZi relies on Google search for the data but renders the result set into rows and columns of screenshots and title/description. It is pretty easy to navigate and due to the compact tabular display, it can show more results (18 or 20) per page which I found pretty convenient.
It is possible to integrate ViewZi Site Search with your WordPress blog to enhance your default search features.
I liked Cuil for a number of reasons. Firstly, it is damn fast and the number of indexed pages is huge though I am not sure if it’s sourced from one of the leading search engines. Secondly, along with the search results it lists some related categories on the right sidebar plus some of the related search words as tabs on top. Another interesting aspect is the pagination at the bottom that is frozen where as most other search engines, you have to scroll down to find the next pages link. In terms of relevancy, I thought the results were pretty good just like leapfish.
You may need to take a little bit time to understand how DuckDuckGo organizes its search results but it looks like they had some great ideas behind its implementation. For example, when you search for names (e.g. ajith), it organizes the results first on the basis of all people with that name and then it gives you the possibility to browse actual web page results for that search literal. If the searched name belongs to a famous personality, it organizes the SERPs based on the official site, social media profiles etc. The search results are more exploration oriented in nature and it may take a while before you actually hit the page that you want but all that you need to do is to keep clicking. The search is fast but I got bored with it somehow.
DuckDuckGo also provides options to search further on social networks, certain branded stores, wikipedia, news sites etc other than the default search.
I believe that DogPile is not exactly a fun search engine but a serious contender to tier one search engines. There is nothing really fancy about dogpile but it brings out the most relevant search results by pinging indexed pages from Google, Yahoo, Live and Ask. It also provides directory searches but what I liked the most is the ‘Are you looking for?’ feature where it lists related and most relevant search options.
ChaCha is more of an ‘answering engine’ than a search engine. Basically the idea is to interactively browse the ‘who?’, ‘what?’, ‘when?’, ‘where?’, ‘why?’, ‘how?’ categories and drill down further to arrive at your answers. You can also do a web search but it’s particularly handy in the answering mode.
The ChaCha search site’s initial load time is high due to the graphics intensive homepage. It lists the live questions (like most recent searches) which is a very good feature especially when you browse current topics.
KartOO calls itself an ‘Interface Mapping Metasearch Engine’ whatever that means. Though I did not particularly like its neon looks, the number of options it has to customize the result set looks is amazing. It can be just text SERPs to graph like output (and several other options in between). The search is relatively slow and so is the loading of the flash based display. However, the graph option is pretty handy because it shows the outbound and inbound links of related sites in a very useful way. I have not experimented with KartOO too much yet but would like to explore it more.
Over to you
Which one of the above search engines did you find appealing? Have you come across any such interesting search engines??