I’m choosing to forget Ask’s rather bizarre ‘propaganda’ advertising of their new search “Ask 3D” search engine as I take a look at how effective it is as a tool, and whether it’s going to pose a threat to Google.
There’s more to Ask3D than the slightly shiny, icon-based eye candy that greets you when you arrive at their front page.
Both Google and Ask are keen to offer a more holistic approach to search results. A search for “Steve Jobs” in Google brings up the usual listing of results, but interspersed with news and video. It’s easy to find these items by scrolling through the results, but they’re not particularly distinct at first glance.
Ask, on the other hand, clearly separates regular web pages, listed in the middle column, from multimedia content and the latest news, displayed in sections in the right-hand column. It’s an elegant layout, marred only slightly by the “Sponsored Results” boxes which don’t integrate as well as their Google counterparts, and can sometimes take up to half of the screen before search results are displayed.