UK Web Focus

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Archive for July 15th, 2008

Using Searchcube

Posted by Brian Kelly (UK Web Focus) on 15 July 2008

One of the unexpected benefits of having a blog was to find that, via the incoming links to my blog posts, I would be alerted to developments likely to be of interest to me – after all, if a blogger has linked to one of my blog posts, I’m likely to find what they are writing about of interest.

It was via a referrer link from the Dougmuse blog that I spotted a post entitled “Bored with your search engine? Try searchcube“. I’ve previously described the SearchMe Visual¬†Service which provides a 3D gallery style display of search results, so I was likely to be interested in how search results can be displayed on a 3D cube. This service is provided by Searchcube which “is a graphical search engine that presents search results in a compact, visual format“. It “uses the Google AJAX Search API. It displays the first thirty-two (32) results for each of websites, videos and images“. It requires support for JavaScript and Flash version 9 or above.

I’ve experimented with the service for a search for ‘iwmw’. The interface is illustrated below (although to get a better idea of how this service works you need to try it – it’s fun, for example, to see how the images on the cube are assembled).

Searchcube results for a search of \'iwmw\'

But is this ‘presentational fluff’? After an initial exploration of the interface, is this likely to be the type of search interface that people who be likely to use? ¬† And even if it does have a role to play, what are the limitations of this service?

As I suggest in my post on the SearchMe service, although I personally would be unlikely to use a 3D style interface for general search queries, I could see a role for this type of interface in other contexts. If, for example, I wished to get a feel for the first page of Google results for a particular search term, this might be useful (and remember that most users are likely to only look at the first page of search results). And perhaps this type of 3D interface may provide accessibility benefits to users who find it difficult to make use of textual interfaces to search.

But even as a possible interface for niche applications there are some limitations to this tool. The service requires use of Flash and even though Flash support is available for many browsers SearchCube does not provide a URI for the searches – and even the help page doesn’t have a URI associated with it. But are these insurmountable barriers?

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