Reading yesterday’s FT I spotted just how out of touch I was with recent events in the world of the internet. A brand new search engine, hyped as a possible competitor to Google, has emerged. Written as Cuil but pronounced “cool” it straightaway fails on the potential of having somebody say “have you cooled them yet?” without making it sound like an extract from a mafia conversation.
I stopped by, briefly, to see what Cuil had to offer and immediately I am struck by the plain black page with an off-centre search box that is not only leaning on the left hand side of the page but which also appears some way down the page. It’s funny, perhaps not, how Google has made us all expect a search box to just be there at the top and in the centre of a page, then again maybe that just makes sense, why put it anywhere else? Cuil is like the anti-Google in terms of layout!
As is everyone’s own test, I searched for something to do with myself: naturally jbwan was the search term that I used. Interested to see the results having read that Cuil uses a different algorithm for indexing than Google does and doesn’t account for page rank type variables in their calculations. Anyway first page of hits back and no sign of my jbwan.com site, a few links to an old, very outdated free wordpress.com site I had but little else to do with me. I had to travel to the end of the second page before I found a link to jbwan.com and my current site. Now, I’m all for new algorithms and so forth but it would appear to me that a domain called jbwan.com with lots of references to the term jbwan and a good number of links coming in, a site listed by Technorati, indexed by multiple aggregators and many other things should stand a fair chance of at least being listed on the first page of results if not in the top 5 for such an obscure term. Am I dreaming?
Results aside, I really hate the layout of this site. The front page is asymmetric, why oh why? Why go against all laws of eye pleasing? The results page is full of text boxes with no definite order; do I read left to right or top to bottom first? It’s all very web 2.0 in its styling but I think that they might be forgetting the purpose of their system; it’s a search engine! People want fast, simple, ordered by relevance, non-dainty search results. They are not going to hang around all day and admire the design of the output. The only reason that anyone visits a search engine is to get away from it. Maybe I’m missing something but I won’t be switching over just yet, even if they do index more pages than Google. At least Google has consistently found what I have been looking for…