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ASK X – Prelude to Personalized Search?
Thursday, February 15, 2007
When ASK debuted ASK X in December, I liked what I saw. To me ASK has been the leader in transforming what a Search Engine Results Page (SERP) will look like in the future. Does anyone else find the traditional SERPs boring? ASK is taking the SERPs in a new direction. ASK X is an AJAX powered three-pane result page that looks similar to ASK City.

With Ask X, you're not just getting back a list of links (as you would on a traditional SERP), but you are getting a pretty slick, new three-panel interface, combining great time-saving features including:
Left: A search control panel that stays with you, complete with Zoom Related Search and Search Suggestions that update as you type.
Middle: Conspicuous results front and center to provide clutter-free information without having to scroll down the page, and the ASK Binoculars to preview results. (For those of you not familiar, Binoculars Site Preview presents a "sneak preview" of a web page when you mouse over a Binoculars icon next to a search result.)
Right: A preview of other types of search results, including video, news, images, blogs, shopping, encyclopedia and more.

However depending on the query that you perform, you may not always get all three panels. The following screenshot depicts a search that I did for "b2b search marketing".

ASK X Search for B2B Search Engine Marketing

The right pane is not present (but there was in fact an images section on the right when I performed the query a second time) - In order to search for more items you can click on the "More" link from the left pane (Items such as the top blogs and top feeds on "B2B search marketing" will be available.)

ASK X is refreshing and it has the opportunity to improve relevancy through incorporating personalized search results. Depending on a user's query, ASK X could serve up personal results combined with "static results" to offer the ultimate user experience. The personalized results would be based on the user's previous search activity and behavior. The static results would consist of items such as:

  • definition of the queried phrase (if applicable)
  • image(s) of the queried phrase
  • most recent news stories pertaining to the query
  • related video or podcasts
  • most relevant/recent blog posts pertaining to the query

ASK X already does a good job of providing these "static items". For example, if you are looking for images in ASK X, there are several pull-down menus at the top of the page that allow you to narrow and focus your results. Pull-Down One allows you to limit by size (All Sizes, Buddy Icon, Small, Medium, Large). Pull-Down Two offers limits by file type (GIF, JPEG, BMP, PNG) and Pull-Down Three limits your results to any color, color, or black and white.

Think how relevant the results will be. Personalized results combined with the Ask X display of search term suggestions. The user would never have to go much further in their search. (By the way displaying search term suggestions as ASK X does is based on some cool technology that goes back a few years.)

The ASK X SERP represents where search is going... and that is towards personalized results, away from a universal results page that is the same to all users. ASK X, a prelude to personalized search results.

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posted by Jody @ Thursday, February 15, 2007  
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