So Ask.com announced a new revamped search interface called Ask3D which combines a whole slew of additional features like pictures, video, plus refined and expanded search options. This is in answer to Google’s similarly expanded search results through its universal search.
On initial look, the new Ask.com is pretty darn cool and it’s a giant leap from its origins as the world’s lamest search engine, Ask Jeeves. But this 3D look that they’re branding only has value if the search is simple. For example, in an article with the NY Times, the example they give is a search on “Bill Clinton.” As you might imagine there’s plenty of content on the former President and as a result the Ask3D model looks very impressive with alternative search suggestions, pictures, and video.
But most people, having used search tools for quite some time, have become a little more savvy in their searching. And if they’re interested in something specific about Bill Clinton, they’ll add it to their search query. So it appears to me that Ask.com’s search suggestions are there to help someone who doesn’t know how to properly use a search engine. In addition, the alternative search suggestions are so completely all over the map that much of it is essentially taking up eye tracking space causing people to look at information that’s of no value to them.
The reason Google became so successful is because of simplicity and valuable results. Everything on that first page of Google results is something you do want to scan. Ask.com has created a model where they’re putting content on a page fully aware that much of the information they’re displaying will be of no interest to you.
The major problem right now with Ask.com’s model is it only works with incredibly grand searches like “Bill Clinton.” Hone your search to a much more specific phrase and you won’t get the plethora of three paneled information (probably only one panel, basic search links) that they’re boasting. And if you look at any search voyeur (MetaSpy unfiltered), you’ll notice most people aren’t conducting generic searches like looking up “Bill Clinton.” If they were, they’d probably go to Wikipedia first.
My friend Greg Sterling has some comments on the new Ask.com as well.