Ask gets a shiny new look, is Google bothered?

Columns & Opinion, Internet

will.jpgWill Head writes…

Reliable number four search engine Ask has unveiled its shiny new interface – which is all web 2.0-y, with shiny graduations and the like.

To see the new look, you’ll have to make sure you’re looking at the US version of Ask, and not redirected to the UK specific one which is still sporting the boring old outfit.

Should Google be worried about this? Well, based just on the presentation of the results the big G could perhaps learn (or steal) a thing or two.

While Google is integrating all its various specialist searches, such as images, video, etc, into its main results which it’s termed Universal Search, it still feels a little lumped together. You’ll find regular search results broken up occasionally by lumps of video results and the like.

Ask seems to have taken a similar approach – bringing all the individual types of search together on the same page – but the results seem much easier to use. The three column layout works especially well, with suggestions to narrow or expand your search on the left, normal results in the middle and specialist searches on the far right.

So, search for Gwen Stefani, for example, and you’ll be offered related results on the left – like No Doubt or Avril Lavigne – while on the far right there are images, popular tracks and her Wikipedia entry. The additional info is relevant and the layout doesn’t feel too crowded.

The real test will be whether Ask can better Google on search terms or lack of spam, but having a polished, tidy interface can’t hurt. If just one percent of the search market is worth $1bn, as Don Dodge claims, then Ask’s new look could quickly turn out to be a money spinner for the company.

Will Head
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