Every now and then, I check out Live Search to see how they are doing. This time I was prompted by a friend who just happens to work for Live Product Search. I'm afraid to say, that only after a short time I am changing back to Google. First let me say what I think they got right.
- Search Results - I have to admit that the search results are much better than they used to be. I remember a time when I would type in a .NET Namespace and couldn't get the correct result unless I clicked on one of the next pages. That being said, I couldn't say they are necessarily better than Google, but they are definitely more up to par than I found them in the past. (If only they could fix MSDN search results and get rid of that horrible little search popup window on the Microsoft ASP.NET site I will be thrilled.)
- Minimalist Design - They have now Googlized the site by taking a minimalist approach and I think this provides a much better user experience. This is the very reason I will never use Yahoo or MSN. There is far too much clutter and it is distracts from the end purpose of searching.
- Live Product Search - My friendship notwithstanding, I have to admit that the product search is pretty slick. Not only do they do a great job of recognizing your search results, but they also aggregate pictures, reviews, and features very well. I have not seen Google functionality that offers this type of interface. The only problem I noticed was that when I did a search on "Nikon D70", the "Compare prices" link was disabled. I do like the compare prices functionality and it is a feature I often use with Google Shopping search.
And now with the reasons why I will keep using Google Search over Live Search. Some of these may seem fairly mundane, but when combined they add up to a lot.
- Google Toolbar - Neither of the following features were available in the Live Toolbar.
- Word Find - This functionality shows the search items to right of the toolbar and then you can click on them repeatedly as they will be highlighted in the displayed page. Because many of my searches are technical in nature, I often end up combing through forums and blogs. This makes it much easier. Live Search provides similar functionality, but it involves opening another window which is just one more step.
- Up Button - It may not seem like much, but another feature I often use is the "Up" button which allows you to move up a subdirectory. This is very handy if you have a URL with a dozen query strings or an FTP directory.