02 February 2008

New Google Search Features

Google has introduced some new search features as experimental through Google Labs. They've added
  • right- and left-handed search navigation
  • keyboard shortcuts for search results
  • keyword suggestions
  • alternate views for search results

  • I like the left-handed search navigation and was playing with the layout and widgets a bit myself last summer when playing with Google's Web Toolkit. eBay has been doing some very similar UI work in its eBay Playground site that I've enjoyed. Amazon tends to overwhelm me at times with JSON this and AJAX that and they can't seem to resist the urge to package the search results and product descriptions to the extreme. I guess this shouldn't surprise me so much as they are a self-billed department store. Netflix, on the other hand, strikes the right balance with me through their consistent and concise detail drill-down through the AJAX essentials, XMLHttpRequest object and javascript onmouseover() event.

    I don't particularly care about keyboard shortcuts and search results. This is a personal inconsistency however as I don't use keyboard shortcuts in Gmail either but almost always use the keyboard to navigate between applications, tabs and the OS in general. Maybe this is my unverbalized position that I just don't like the way Google implemented keyboard shortcuts. Maybe I'm just inconsistent after all.

    The keyword suggestions have been available as a Google Labs offering called Google Suggest for a while and the search bar in Firefox provides JSON-enabled search term suggestions.

    The alternative search results are a great move forward with regard to search result presentation, specifically addressing the need for better contextual-based and grouped/ordered search results. I've written about this previously and was eager for new search primitives to address this perceived shortcoming or at minimum search options that accomplished the same thing.

    At least I'm not alone in liking the latest search presentation options. Ars Technica described it simply as "awesome".

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