Monday, May 15, 2006

Snap! Interface Breakthrough

One of the biggest unsolved problems in search has been the interface. The last big breakthrough was the Google Blank Slate interface, and it hasn't evolved much since then. And now that the Google interface itself is starting get a bit crowded, the call for a re-think of how search is done is getting more apparent.

At least to some people, like the good people at Snap. I saw their new design this morning and I had that magic feeling when you realize that someone, somewhere is starting to get it.

I'm not an interface designer, but here's a short list of what appeals to me:

  • The use of neutral colors and a lot of open space
  • Putting the search box in the middle of the page
  • The one click way to bring in the headlines
  • The results page split into two sections: control and display
  • The thought put into sharing results
  • The immediate inclusion of suggestions
The biggest question to arise is the straightforward inclusion of ads into the resutls. Is this bold or obvious? I'm going to say obvious. People really don't have a problem with ads in search results, provided they are clearly linked.

The biggest breakthrough with the interface, though, is that the sponsored links also get previews. That is, when you click on the sponsored result, the display window shows the landing page, just as it would for a regular, algorithmic result. What an incredible branding opportunity. If I were running a campaign, I'd pay close attention to the traffic coming from Snap (or, the level to which other engines adopt this display model). This could be a huge opportunity to design the landing page so that it was a great big graphic ad.
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