Google introduces new views for searches

Company seeks user feedback on alternate search results

Google is giving users the opportunity to try new ways of using its search engine, according to Andrew Hogue, Tech Lead on the project.

"There have been a lot of recent improvements to Web search, but the appearance of results themselves has been pretty constant -- 10 or so Web pages in a vertical list," Hogue said in a blog post. "Frequently this is exactly the right format, but for some searches you need more options and more control. That's why we've created our experimental search page to let you try out some of our newest ideas."

The company announced three experimental ways to conduct searches that alter the way results are shown. The company is asking users to provide feedback on its new alternative views.

The first option, called "map view," typically displays information about a location if one of the Web pages contains a map.

For example, say you're searching for information about environmental conferences in your state, or maybe you want to find out where your favorite movie is playing. Although that information is on the Web and accessible via a regular Web search, it's probably spread out over many sites and pages, Hogue said in the blog. Unless one of the pages that the search engine serves up has a map on it, you might have a hard time visualizing all the locations at once.

The new map view feature plots some of the key locations from the results of your Web search and displays them on a map, according to the blog.

The "timeline view" does the same thing for dates found on the Web as the map view does for locations. The timeline includes dates of historic events, or biographical information that are automatically generated from a user's search results, Hogue said.

The third option, called "info view," works in a slightly different way, he said. This view doesn't change the way search results are displayed, but it adds a small box, or control panel, on the right side of the page that contains dates, locations, measurements or images.

"For example, selecting 'dates' from the control panel reveals the date of the Sputnik launch in the first result for 'space exploration,' according to the blog. "If you run a search and find many of your results are looking similar, try using info view. It may highlight the differences between results and help you select the best page for your needs."

Google is asking users to provide feedback on its new alternative views.

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Linda Rosencrance

Computerworld
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