Tuesday, June 05, 2007

Ask.com Makeover

During last month's presentation by Stephen Abram he cautioned against inadvertently humiliating a patron.

When a person comes to the Information Desk with a question, often they have already tried Google unsuccessfully. It can be humbling for them if the librarian then uses Google to instantly come up with the answer. Abrams suggests using another search engine to avoid the implication that the patron was too ignorant to use the engine correctly. But which engine to use? I may have found a good candidate.

Today's New York Times has an article on the makeover of the Ask.com search engine. They've changed the way they display search results and have added lists of related searches and results from other sources.

"In addition to the traditional search results, which are displayed in a central panel on about half the screen, the left quarter of the page is dedicated to suggestions on how to expand or narrow the search or for related searches. The right quarter is reserved for different types of content depending on the query (including) photos, news photos, news articles, and videos."

This is similar to what Exalead and other search engines have been doing, but I think Ask.com takes a further. Ask includes image thumbnails, and the video results are right there on the page instead of being a click away, as with Exalead. And I love the way the site preview windows popup without clicking.


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