A few people have asked for our opinion on ‘Search cube’, a search engine, like ours, that displays search results in a visual manner.
We were aware of services such as ‘Search cube’ and the now defunct ‘Search Me’ before building Oolone, and while we enjoy their services, we felt that they don’t utilize the visual concept to its full extent.
Take Search cube for example. Search cube displays results as tiles on a large 3D cube, effectively creating a virtual ‘Rubik’s Cube’ from site image previews.
While it is a great demonstration of how the web can be manipulated and displayed, we feel that it is not entirely suited to practical use.
There is little order to the results and you can find yourself slightly disoriented when using it. This, mixed with the small preview sizes, limits it’s efficacy in actually finding the sites you are looking for. And ultimately, that is what a search engine will be judged by.
‘Search Me’ was an engine launched in 2005 With millions of dollars in funding from Sequoia Capital. Is displayed results as images of websites organized on a horizontal scroll bar.
Search Me did a better job in terms of practicality, but one flaw was that their results were formatted so that you could only really see a preview of one site at a time.
All subsequent results were obscured by the main preview at the front.
This meant that it required user interaction to get to each preview (clicking an arrow).
This allowed for quite large previews, but meant vastly slowing down the evaluation process on the results page. The same applies to Redz, which uses the same layout.
Google now offers previews of sites, recognizing the need and benefits of the practice.
However, it isolates the feature from the majority of people by requiring an arrow to be clicked to activate it. Even then, whilst a large image preview is shown, only one image can be shown at a time.
Again, this slows down the process so much that you might aswell visit each site and click ‘back’ until you find what you want.
We like all of these sites and obviously support the idea behind them, but our interpretations on execution varies slightly.
We have tried to put together the best of both worlds: a visually appealing layout, fused with the ability to look at each image in more depth.
We display 4 tiles at a time so that more sites can be evaluated in a shorter time frame.
Clearly there is a balance to be made between the number of results per page and the size of each result. Hopefully our method of hovering over a tile to enlarge it has facilitated a good balance.
We’re not saying it’s perfect, but with the great feedback that we’ve been getting hopefully each version that we release will be an improvement on the last.