Back in May, Yahoo hinted at how it wants search to be more than a simple string of links, and today the company showed what it has in store.
It turns out that Yahoo has no intent to destroy the “10 Blue Links.” They’re as prevalent as ever in the redesign of its search page. The difference is a sidebar of contextual searches and site-specific search results, as you can see below:
The main changes to search involve the two menus on the left sidebar. The top bar contains site-specific search results, from online locales such as eHow and YouTube. These applications can change depending on what is being searched. For example, if a user searches for “sushi,” he or she can bring up Yelp results instead of the standard Yahoo directory information. Plugging in a math equation brings up a calculator app, should the user want to work on more math problems. Searching for a person brings up popular social networking sites that might contain that individual’s profile. And if you ask a question, an 8-ball comes up to provide a random answer.
The bottom bar also brings up related ideas based on current and previous searches. For instance, when searching for “Jaguar,” the first handful of search results refer to the automobile. But if the user then searches for other animals, such as “Lions” and “Bears,” the related concepts box suggests terms like “big cats” and “subspecies.”
All of this fits into Yahoo’s strategy of being the focal point for people’s Web browsing. As Yahoo plans to relinquish control of search to Microsoft and its Bing search engine, that’s pretty much the only strategy that makes sense. At the press event, Yahoo sought to downplay the traditional notions of providing a search engine. Prabhakar Raghavan, Senior Vice President of Labs and Search Strategy, stressed that Bing will be focused on the “back-end” of search, while Yahoo tries to create a more palatable interface for users.
Larry Cornett, Senior Vice President of Search and Design, indirectly refuted claims that Yahoo is giving up on search. “We are committed to continuing to invest in search,” he said. “We are committed to continuing to deliver great experiences for the people that come to Yahoo every day.”
And I think the company is doing an admirable job of it. As with the changes to Mail and Messenger, Yahoo is throwing more information at users in hopes of helping them out. The only question is whether people actually want that extra push, or if they’re already conditioned to ignore the auxiliary information and move straight on to those 10 blue links.