Top 5 visual search engines
Is your memory mostly visually triggered? Or are you simply tired of text based search and looking for the next thing? Here are the top 5 visual search engines, each with a different take on visual search interface and presentation of results.
Few things change as quickly as the web and as it changes, so should web search: Web content is more complex and interactive now and that requires different search tools.
But creating alternative search engines isn’t easy. There are reason for Google’s dominance and the prime reason is the quality of the search results, which is great — even if until this week the search results were entirely text based.
Danny Sullivan has argued that the quality of search results in visual search engines isn’t all that good. And he is right. Still, it is necessary to explore new ways of presenting and interacting with search results.
Here are five innovative and intriguing ways to look at search.
In most alternative search engines, the innovation starts with the presentation of the search results.
At SearchMe, it is right there as you start typing your query: Categories appear to the right of the search box that relate to your query and the categories change as you type. You can either type your query as usual or choose a category to explore.
Either way SearchMe will present pictures of web pages that answer your search. You can review these pages quickly to find just the information you’re looking for, before you click through.
Click on a page to bring it to the front (like Apple’s cover flow presentation). If the image doesn’t provide sufficient information for you to make your choice, point your mouse to it and the usual suspects appear: Page title, excerpt and URL.
In order to inform you of how the pages in the search results relate to your query, the search terms are highlighted on each page.
SearchMe also has some social tools: Above the search results are quick links to share your search on Twitter and Facebook.
There is also an option to pick pages from the search results and store them in a “stack”. This stack can then be shared: You can link to it or embed it on your site, like this stack of pages on search engines:
Vieewzi is a metasearch engine. It searches not only Google and Yahoo, but also Flickr, YouTube and other great sources of information to present the search results blended in different “flavors”.
At Viewzi it’s all about the views. You not only get one, but seemingly countless ways to view your search results, each using thubmnail images, screenshots and more as visual aids.
Some views are standard for almost any search:
- Simple Text, showing text based search results with thumbnail previews
- Web Screenshot, similar to Apple’s coverflow view
- Power Grid, a grid of previews — text or image depending on the content of the page
Other views appear for special queries:
- A search for apple reveals a TechCrunch view for news about Apple, the company, as well as a Photo view for images of both apples and Apple computers
- A search for Black Sabbath brings a Song view that lets you listen to songs, an Album view to browse album covers and a Video view
- A search for Barack Obama shows, among others, a News views along with Celebrity Photos view.
And there are more… Different views display results from different sources and in different ways.
EyePlorer is still in beta, but it seems to have what it takes to be a great research tool. This is a fact search engine — it returns facts, not web pages.
The interface is circular: You input your search term in the center and hit enter and the circle fills up with related concepts, called EyeSpots. Click and drag any EyeSpot into the center to add it to the query.
Point your mouse to a concept to see the fact linking it to your query or double click a concept to see how it relates to the other concepts in the circle. Click the lines that then appear for facts on how the concepts are related.
When you find facts you want for your research, drag them to the notebook on the right side of the screen where you can store facts for later. Right now, there is no way to sign in and save notes. There is an email link, but it didn’t work during my test.
Right now, most of the facts are extracted from Wikipedia. Each fact is tagged by an open license and accompanied with a link to the source.
Ujiko uses a space age interface to display automatic visual classification and for customisation of search results.
In a fashion similar to EyePlore, Ujiko displays your search results in a circle. The circumference is divided into sectors each labeled with a color. This clusters search results in a way that allows a site to belong to more than one cluster without confusing the user.
Point your mouse to a site and a preview appears in the middle of the circle along with a description and the URL.
You can customize your search result easily:
If you find a site you know you love or which seems very relevant, click the page icon next to it it and then click the heart icon to “put it forward”. Similarly, click the trash can to filter it out. Now click OK next to the search box to move your favorite sites to the top of the list and continue refining the filtered results.
NeXplore lets you choose between three ways of viewing search results. For starters, there is the regular list of web search results: Title, description and URL. But you get much more than that. Thumbnail images and pop-up previews which makes it easier to browse the search result and decide which to click.
Alternatively, there is the Gallery view, which presents larger thumbnails along with titles and URL or the Line view, which consists of a compact list of titles and descriptions with pop-up previews.
When you come across a site you like a lot, you can save it for later by clicking the heart icon or you can share it on a large number of social web sites like Twitter, Delicious and Facebook. Then there is an option to personalize the search results by trashing results you don’t like.
NeXplore offers more than web search. You can easily move your search to search blogs, podcasts, news, videos and images.