|New Ask 3D, a Leap Forward?|
| 8:02 am on Jun 5, 2007 (gmt 0)|
|Referred to as Ask 3D inside the company, the revamped search engine groups results by media type, including video, music, photos, news and blogs. |
"The Internet has evolved, but search has remained relatively conventional," said Jim Lanzone, chief executive of the Oakland-based company. "Ask 3D is a radical leap forward. It does multiple searches for you and gives you the results on one page in a simple and elegant way."
New Ask 3D, a Leap Forward? [latimes.com]
| 8:08 am on Jun 5, 2007 (gmt 0)|
This was so radical that A9 kinda beat them to it quite some time ago.
Nice try Ask, maybe you should run your PR past us next time before you apply egg firmly to your face.
| 9:01 am on Jun 5, 2007 (gmt 0)|
I was confused to read Chris Sherman's comparison of Ask to Apple and crowning it as the hip search engine. A bit over the top, I thought. However when I saw their new home page I could indeed see the Appleness of it. Well done. :)
Unfortunately their SERP page sucked the hipness out of the room. Looks like an old fashioned framed page, brings me back to Netscape 3.x days. What happened? A bit of jolt to transition from a hip interface to the coded-in-notepad look.
As for their Sponsored Listings, is it possible to find a shade of yellow that is any closer to white?
| 2:12 pm on Jun 5, 2007 (gmt 0)|
I did a few city/state searches. In the major markets, you get a map and lots of helpful links. But in the smaller markets, you get typical links only, with some helpful suggestions. Google, on the other hand, provides maps and links on even the smallest towns. I find this odd, since 1) Ask was a leader at one time on local search and 2) having a map come up wouldn't be that hard to program on a city/state search request.
On common health questions, I was impressed. Try "nasal congestion" and "poison ivy," for example. Here they teamed up with a service called Healthline. The results is that it gets the job done, quick.
On shopping, I typed in Clinique (it's the makeup my wife uses) and got results back that were very helpful--and likely made money for Ask.
Ask.com is facing a really tough marketing challenge. Everyone laughed at Yahoo's investors argument that it was important to be the "early mover" and establish a name brand quickly, but that thinking proved right. Indeed, Ask has got the traffic they have only because they were one of the first players.
What a great name for a search engine. On that alone, I'd never count them out.
| 3:44 pm on Jun 5, 2007 (gmt 0)|
I'll agree with Martinibuster on the frame effect, for me.
However, I can't imagine that this hasn't undergone some serious A/B testing with real users (unlike us geeks who spend all day with this stuff).
We associate frames with crappy homemade sites and nigh impossible positioning. But perhaps they need revisted as as something useful for the user.
When I work with big Excel worksheets I frequently use the "freeze panes" function. That's because there's information I want keep in view while I do other things.
In this case, I get a bunch of options to refine my search. I scroll down the page to see if there are any results that match what I'm looking. If I decide there's nothing, I don't need to go back to the top of the page again to look at those other options. This could be very useful for less frequent searchers.
For me, it's moderately useless, as my searches are very precise, but I'm not a average user.
The overall effect is fresh.
You can't compare with A9. A search engine should at least start out as something impartial. I'm not going to ask Amazon for search results, in the same way I'm not going to ask Walmart.
| 5:55 pm on Jun 5, 2007 (gmt 0)|
|However, I can't imagine that this hasn't undergone some serious A/B testing with real users (unlike us geeks who spend all day with this stuff). |
They've been testing this publicly at askx.com for months. The new ask.com updates what they had at askx with skins. Everything else seems the same.
|We associate frames with crappy homemade sites and nigh impossible positioning. But perhaps they need revisted as as something useful for the user. |
These aren't frames, though. It's done with CSS.
I'll repeat the same minor criticism I gave askx some time back - it's confusing that there is an "opening page" that is completely different from the interface once you have done a search. That is, upon initial entry, there's one big page with a search box. Once you've done a search, it splits in two, and now the search box is in the left-hand "frame". Why not just start out with the "frames" and make it consistent?
I particularly like the narrow/widen result options. Nothing new for ask, but it is presented much more clearly than before.
| 5:57 pm on Jun 5, 2007 (gmt 0)|
|These aren't frames, though. It's done with CSS. |
Right, we know that. We're pointing out that the effect is to create the framed experience, which is retro, not retro-chic but retro-blah, as in Mork-style suspenders [upload.wikimedia.org].
I love their home page, but can't figure out why they didn't carry the jazziness over to the SERP.
[edited by: martinibuster at 6:11 pm (utc) on June 5, 2007]
| 6:01 pm on Jun 5, 2007 (gmt 0)|
Well, I like it.
| 6:05 pm on Jun 5, 2007 (gmt 0)|
i guess you really can polish a turd.
| 7:18 pm on Jun 5, 2007 (gmt 0)|
Uuggglllyyy. Kind of hurts my eyes...feel like I am being pulled in all directions.
| 9:05 pm on Jun 5, 2007 (gmt 0)|
|They've been testing this publicly at askx.com for months. The new ask.com updates what they had at askx with skins. Everything else seems the same. |
A guy from Ask was in my office a while back showing me this. What I'm seeing here however looks quite a lot better.
Kevin Newcomb at Search Engine Watch writes that they tested customer satisfaction levels (very favourably)
http:// searchenginewatch.com / showPage.html?page=3626058
But I don't know about sample sizes.
| 9:13 pm on Jun 5, 2007 (gmt 0)|
One further point. Whether this impresses the average WebmasterWorld user is largely irrelevant. The questions are whether or not the average user likes it, and whether or not the off-the-wall ad campaign strikes a note or not.
Those questions have little to do with each other. Ask is making a pretty aggressive play with this, and I, for one, approve.
What do you do at the poker table when you're short stacked and draw pocket 10s? You might not have the nuts, but you should go all in.
| 9:19 pm on Jun 5, 2007 (gmt 0)|
Given that they own Bloglines, a frame type effect does not shock me..
| 7:51 am on Jun 6, 2007 (gmt 0)|
I was under the impression that people tend to like frames actually, we don't use them however because of search engines. Same with other user friendly features like ajax and flash.
| 4:58 pm on Jun 6, 2007 (gmt 0)|
|I was under the impression that people tend to like frames actually, we don't use them however because of search engines. Same with other user friendly features like ajax and flash. |
It's only REAL frames that are a problem for search engines - faux frames created with CSS are fine.
I'm not sure why Ask is being marked with the scarlet letter of "frames" in this case, though. Not sure why people choose to call it "frames", rather than "sidebar". "sidebar" certainly has become a popular modern style, thanks to CMSs. Are people really objecting to the web 2.0ing of the sidebar, because it doesn't repaint on every result? Really? This is a BAD thing?
| 7:50 pm on Jun 6, 2007 (gmt 0)|
I think it looks good. And it's great that a search engine is doing something different than just failing to mimic Google.
ask.com seems to rank more using on-page factors and this is a welcome relief from the domainance of paid links and networks in Google.