Monday, 18th December 2006
Ask.com Releases Prototype of New Results Page User Interface, Video Search Also Begins Testing
Note from Gary:
After spotting a Richard MacManus Read/WriteWeb blog post about a new UI test prototype at Ask.com, a couple of people have sent along notes asking me to chime in about the new test.
Yes, I can confirm it's a new results page interface that Ask.com began testing last night. It's named Ask X (pronounced "Ask Ex"). Remember, this is only an early test and the Ask X team would appreciate your feedback, positive/negative/suggestions.
The ability to see the UI test is random (look for a link) when searching using Ask.com. Look for the link and then opt-in.
Hold on! Try it Now! No Waiting!
Since my full time job is at Ask, this brief post about the Ask X test will focus on what you'll be seeing if you choose to opt-in or visit to the URL mentioned above.
If you'd like to link in directly you can go to this URL and take a look at Ask X.
Those of us who follow search and information retrieval on a 24x7 basis often forget that for the masses (not the info pro or search geek) search primarily involves the web search box. Period! In some ways Ask X could serve as a teaching tool quickly illustrating what specialty tools are available and how (if people know about them in the first place) they might save the user time by getting them to a quality result quickly. If we change a word in one of Raganathan's Five Laws of Library Science, it's about saving the time of the "searcher."
+ The Ask X home page is identical to what you've seen on Ask.com except that in this prototype, the Search Tools Toolbox along the right rail has been removed.
+ An AJAX powered three-pane result page (similar to what you'll find on the recently introduced Ask City).
+ Pane 1) Search Interface and Zoom
In addition to Ask Zoom results which are conceptually based to narrow, expanded and provide related name suggestions (when available) appear after you conduct a search, you will now also see suggestions as you type. Btw, as suggestions and Zoom results appear, simply use the down arrow to highlight the suggestion then simply click (or press Enter) to run the search. The Ask's Binoculars feature remains available for many results.
+ Pane 2) Search Results and Smart Answers
Here's where you'll find the good old web search links you're expecting! However, you'll still get inline results, like images (for example a search for "pics Golden Gate Bridge"), Smart RSS result, and thousands of other Smart Answers will be visible at the top of the middle box. Ask now also offers Smart Answers containing video content.
You'll also see AskCity integration at the top of the panel if the query suggests that this is what the searcher is looking for.
As you review results, look for an icon (page + green plus sign) next to each web result that makes it easy to save the link to your MyStuff account. If you're unfamiliar with MyStuff, here's an overview tour.
+ Pane 3) Results from Ask specialty databases (aka verticals) if the query suggests that the info they offer might be of value in saving the searcher time and clicks. In this pane, a searcher can quickly identify results or direct interfaces from/to other Ask databases including images, blogs, and feeds (look for a new feed directory that helps locate feeds by topic), news, local (AskCity), shopping, and reference results from Wikipedia, American Heritage Dictionary, AllMusicGuide, and other resources.
Here's another useful feature. As you review results in "Pane 3," look for a "magnifying glass icon" that will appear next to various specialty results. Click the icon and you should see a search box for the specific database (blogs and feeds, encyclopedia, dictionary) where the material comes from appear in the spot where the info was located. Need to run another search? You're now ready. No new page or interface to go to.
One More Thing
Take a look at a results pages for image searches Ask X. Here's a search for "Beaches."
Look for several pull-down menus at the top of the page that allow you to narrow and focus your results.
Pull-Down One) allows you to limit by size (All Sizes, Buddy Icon, Small, Medium, Large)
Pull-Down Two) offers limits by file type (GIF, JPEG, BMP, PNG)
Pull-Down Three) limits your results to any color, color, or black and white.
As you mouse over each image, look for the post-it icon that makes saving to MyStuff a breeze.
Btw, back to the first pane where Ask X now displays search term suggestions (what we've called pre-emptive searching in the past on ResourceShelf) that dynamically appear as you enter your terms into the search box and before clicking the search button. Back in 2005 (before joining Ask.com), I pointed out a few reasons (and services) about why I believe this type of technology might be potentially useful for many types of searchers and webmasters in an article I wrote for SearchDay.
Another question I've been asked is about video search. Yes, it's also being tested. Here's an example of a video search result and a video search Smart Answer.
Remember, Ask X is ONLY a test and a new one at that. As I mentioned earlier, the Ask X product team would appreciate your comments and suggestions. Stay tuned, more to come.
See Also: Richard MacManus Read/WriteWeb Post About Ask X
See Also: Ask.com Gets It Right With Ask X (via Bruce Clay Blog)
See Also: Ask X About Page
See Also: The Five Laws of Library Science (1936)
by S.R. Ranganathan
Full Text via dlist.