Brian Breslin

Building web-apps: reDesigning search (II)

Its been a while since my last post here, and for that I apologize. Been working on various design projects, and my own webapps i mentioned earlier. With that aside, one of the issues I’ve been pondering lately has been that of the search engine start page/main page. There are various degrees of this, you have your Google, your, your yahoo, all with different takes on what the default domain should show.With Seekum, I decided that we needed to reach a blend, a cross so to speak between the two. On one hand we want to retain the maximum speed we could, but on the other, I felt it would be neat to see that the search engine is a living organism. So with that in mind I decided to take a page from technorati which lists their top searches on the front page, and also play off the tag cloud phenomenon. My thinking was, that these two bunches of information would provide that little extra that maybe 10-20% of the users would appreciate (remember at this point our vast majority of users are techies who hear of us from blogs), but wouldn’t interfere with the rest of the users interactions.The fact that we’re doing this to intrigue this small percentage of people might surprise some of you, but when you think about it, it shouldn’t. If you follow Umair Hague, and more recently Bradley Horowitz’ piece on the content creation pyramid you’d understand that most content is produced by the minority, but enjoyed by the majority. The examples they reference are all what I would refer to as easily identifiable content, whereas with Seekum, it is more of an intangible content this same group is contributing to. It is this whole user defined search that I’m talking about, the simple actions of voting things up and down are in fact a participatory content that the group is contributing to. The other way to look at it is that the search results are the content, and the users are contributing to it and helping create/recreate it.So now that I’ve bored you with the content facet of the search model, I have to get back to the reason you are all here: the design aspect. If you take a look at one of the protoype screens for Seekum’s new results page, you’ll notice how we’ve decided to lay out the content. Right now it doesn’t look that spectacular, but I’m hoping that it is exactly that which gets people accustomed to it. Although there is alot of stuff going on in the search results (tagging, voting, and such), we are trying to make sure that it doesn’t interfere with the actual search results, what you came looking for in the first place. This might strike you as just some run of the mill html, but it takes alot of thought to structure everything in such a way that you get exactly what you are looking for, and not alot of what you aren’t.In case you were wondering, or read this far down, the new seekum design should be rolling out this week. So stay tuned 🙂

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