It’s been around for years, but frankly I’ve never given Ask.com much serious attention. There never really seemed to be anything wrong with it; it just wasn’t anything special. So I used Yahoo!… then Hotbot (remember that one?)… then AltaVista (known today only for its notorious offshoot, Babelfish)… then Google. Ah yes, Google… the end all be all of search engines.
Check out Ask.com. Not only is it glossed up with Web 2.0 goodness, it actually has some really cool features. Of course the search box has AJAX-based auto-complete. But it’s the results page that’s really impressive. I did a search on John Coltrane (of course… but not solely out of narcissism) and here are the results.
Everything fades in nicely as the results come back. The main column is your typical search results list. The left column gives a bunch of suggestions for narrowing or expanding your search, as well as searching on similar or related topics. The right column is what’s really cool though: different sections feature images, audio, an encyclopedia (well, Wikipedia) entry, and YouTube videos.
Sure, all of that stuff on the right side reeks of “synergistic” partnerships between Ask.com and the source sites. But whether they’re all throwing money at each other or not, the sources are well-chosen, and the overall effect is very cool.
Big thumbs up to Ask.com for their efforts on this. The big question, of course, is how good are the results? I am going to make this my primary search engine for a while, and put it through its paces.