By samoore (1251644910|%a, %b %e at %I:%M%p)
Because of my experience with web design I was very interested to see some of the interfaces that these other search tools used. A lot of tools use Google results or some other search engines results but where they excel is in the way they display data. Often times this can be most important and at the very least very cool.
The first I found intriguing was SearchMe. SearchMe uses the "cover flow" look that has made its way just about everyone on the internet. I have actually used a cover flow interface before. I thought it was interesting in this regard because it was pictures but I don't think it works very well for Search Me. With SearchMe I found that the thumbnails used in the cover flow were often out dated and hard to see, making them relatively worthless. This coupled with lackluster search results make SearchMe basically a cool looking gadget rather than a worthwhile search tool.
Cool Iris is definitely cool but does it end up in the same boat as SearchMe? Little substance and lots of pretty bells and whistles? I think it does to an extent but not as much. The idea behind Cool Iris is different, it's a browser plugin that highlights exploring. If you type in a topic you are likely to find something that you may not be looking for but that's cool. That is really the point behind Cool Iris. I don't think it's worth a browser plugin spot as I'm not really a fan of browser plugins to begin with except for the absolutely necessary. But it's definitely a cool looking tool that has a revolutionary interface.
Viewzi is one of my favorite tools just because of all the different views it supplies. These are all beautiful interfaces and rely on other technology. It's basically a viewer for all the different search engines, some are very revolutionary unique ideas. I think Viewzi is a perfect example of a site mixing just enough different technology. In many regards Viewzi is just a playground for interface design tests and I'm sure they collect data on which is best.
The Tag Cloud
One internet phenomenon that I'm not a fan of is the "tag cloud". I noticed a lot of searches (Quintara, Search Cloud, and Sense Bot) used the tag cloud and I wasn't a fan of these services. The idea is for free flowing thought but I just don't think they are efficient for the way I think.
Where Does Search Go Next?
With all these unique interfaces the question is does one of them catch on in the main stream. Looking at some innovative web design let's anyone see that there are thousands of designers who have brilliant ideas that could be applied to search. The issue is finding something that is both unique and also very functional.
I think the next wave of useful search engine interfaces could be for specialized fields. With general results that can span into any category it's hard to create a specific interface. If you are just searching for places, or people, or athletes or something like that it makes a lot more sense to have a customized interface because results are going to have similar formats. This is why I think a lot of "big" search engines don't have anything more distinguished about their results. However you can kind of see Google going in this direction with their mini results for things like weather.