You have probably seen one the new, and sometimes strange, TV commercials promoting Ask.com with the “its the algorithm” campaign. However with all the new marketing hype about the interface, search features, and algorithm, I have yet to meet anyone who uses Ask.com as their primary search engine. So I decided to give it try and spend a week using only Ask.com to search the Internet.
For me a week with Ask is a week without Google. Google has been my primary destination for search since I first heard about it from Leo Laporte on TechTV. I use Google on a daily basis (via HyperDuck.net) so the challenge is really two fold. The first challenge is go without the familiar and reliable (Google) and the second challenge is learn a new way doing things (Ask.com).
Last Sunday began my week with Ask.com. Here is my daily log of things I liked (+) and disliked (-) about the experience.
Day 1 – Sunday
- (+) Homepage nice and clean, except for the drop shadow border and gray background. It seems like they went one step too far.
- (-) Link to page 2+ blend into the site with the sponsored ads at the bottom and tool bar link.
- (-) Search results were similar for broad search terms verses narrow search terms
- (-) Search results do not yield desired results, have to go to page 5 or 6 to find info
Day 2 – Monday
- (-) Search for US news events results in many sites outside the US
- (-) Search box on left side column too small, can’t see full search term
- (-) Product results cluttered
- (-) Product results appear for manufacturer name, but not always manufacturer with model number
- (+) Nice related products links under product results
- (+) Right column useful, (-) but seldom shows up
- (-) Hard to find a good keyword combo to get desired results
Day 3 – Tuesday
- (+) UPS Tracking number entered gives a link to UPS.com
- (-) No FedEx tracking like UPS
- (+) Link to cached pages in results, (-) but doesn’t always show up
- (+) Results title background changes when mouse over (it was really annoying at first)
- (-) Slow transition between results pages
- (-) A lot of unrelated sites from the UK showing up in search results
- (-) Search results not good, slow page transition
Day 4 – Wednesday
- (+) Phone number search gives a link to WhitePages.com Reverse Telephone Number search
- (-) Some phone number searches ONLY gives a link to WhitePages.com Reverse Telephone Number search
- (-) Maps seem awkward, looks like they were drawn with a crayon
Day 5 – Thursday
- (-) Small search box on left side column becoming more annoying, can’t see full search term, suggested search seems to slow down typing
- (-) Some narrow search terms yield the same results as a broad search term
Day 6 & 7 – Friday & Saturday
- (-) Will not use the small search box on left side column, going back the homepage to search
- (-) Annoyed with the majority of search results, takes a long to time to find desired info
Overall I found 7 things that I liked (+) and 20 things that I did not like (-).
The biggest like would have to be the link to related products in the one box results. For example I did a search for a printer and under the product results was a related link for toner for that printer.
The biggest dislike is a tie between small search box in the left column and the quality of search results. The search box was the most annoying when I was typing in it and the search results were most annoying the rest of the time.
When I started the week I really thought the differences in user experience would be minimal. I tried my best to keep an open and positive attitude toward Ask.com. However, by Day 4 I was really frustrated by the results I was getting, so much so that I started to dread even doing a search. On Day 7 I had to troubleshot an issue with a wireless router and after struggling far too long with Ask.com to find some much needed info to help resolve the problem, I cut the week short and went back to Google. (FYI, found the needed info in a couple of minutes.)
After all of this what do you think I’m going to recommend? I recommend that you try it for yourself, for a day, without changing your normal searching habits and see how you like it. People search in different ways and Ask.com is definitely a different search engine. Try it for yourself at Ask.com.