The design of search

August 24, 2008 — 3 Comments

Google disrupted search partly through the use of design. Of course it was the search algorithm PageRank that was the big technical breakthrough followed by AdWords and AdSense but the simplicity of the interaction was also key to getting users to weave search into every aspect of their internet behavior. If you want to know more about how the Google interaction developed then check out Bill Moggridge’s book Designing Interactions. Google took the world by storm but is that the end of the design of search?

A new search engine by the name of Cuil indicates not. I love Cuil because it uses design thinking to create a better search experience. Yes, it also has some technical innovations that allows it to search more of the internet than Google or other competitors but the big breakthrough for me is that Cuil presents information in a way that is more useful and interesting. Instead of creating a long list of results it lays them out a bit like the page of a newspaper. It creates pages of links that are related and displays them as tabs and it also creates categories that are displayed in a box. The final piece is that Cuil integrates images with the search results so that you can scan visually as well as by text.

I haven’t spent enough time with Cuil yet to know whether it does a better job of getting to that one specific thing but I do know it is far better for searches where you are not sure what you are looking for. It is great for browsing and takes you to links you might never have thought to look for or couldn’t describe with specific search terms.

Check it out. It may just be the next evolution of the design of search.

Tim Brown

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3 responses to The design of search

  1. Hello Tim
    Thanks for introducing me to Cuil. Besides offering more information than google as well as pictures, it also works well on account of its cool user interface. Makes research not seem so dull. Is it the next evolution in the design of search? You bet!
    We do more search on the internet than ever.
    My understanding of semiotics affirms this truth in my mind. In a world where there is increasing mediation in terms of human interraction (the internet, TV etc), humans will naturally connect with products of intuitive design.
    A great place to begin is the search engine.

  2. Tim Brown, I must side with Gbenga on this one, thank you for introducing me to Cuil! It’s fantastic layout and smooth operational interface makes searching the web a much more pleasing experience for the user. It’s layout is very easy on the eyes, and I much prefer the green and blue link colors over the traditional red and blue, again it’s much cleaner and more aesthetically pleasing visually. In addition, I simply adore how your search commands bring up legit web sources, as opposed to random web results you sometimes traditionally find on other search engines (i.e. Google).

    Speaking of Google, no offense to our favorite search engine, but I have to give it up for Cuil visually overall. I’ve always been a little perturbed that Google seemingly just discovered that Graphic Designers existed in the world only but a couple years ago. Cuil has impressed both a mechanically intelligent layout splashed with a touch of modern artistic flair. This refreshing combination doesn’t seem to “plague” your search with slower loads as Google would so easily suggest either.

  3. Hi Tim

    I just cuil’d my own ID agency which it found very quickly – but the shock was the images used to illustrate the search….. they were all seeming completely random and nothing to do with content from our site. Quite weird.

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