When I first started at Y! I told one of the search team’s senior managers that the biggest changes we’d see in the next year would be in the UI. That was a year and a half ago and not much has changed I’m sorry to say. I was remembering this because of Danny Sullivan’s article Why Search Sucks & You Won’t Fix It The Way You Think.
When a major engine with its own index introduce a new UI, that’ll be compelling. Maybe one of the major engines could introduce an alternative interface on a different URL. Oh wait, AlltheWeb Livesearch is Yahoo’s version of that, and there is Google Suggest. But these aren’t really changing the results pages so much as improving user interaction with the query box.
The problem is that every single pixel on the GYM results pages is so ridiculously valuable that to change anything is a major undertaking. The other problem is that a search results page is all things to all people. The current UI, a text-based list of results, may not be the ultimate experience, but in general it works. You asked a large-scale information system a question and you got a list of document summaries from its corpus.
I’ve spent lots of time playing around with visual search engines like Kartoo, Clusty, Musicplasma, Mooter, and others. But although I wrote reviews of all those engines, the truth is I only use Yahoo search and I never use visual engines. Those visual engines are cool and I respect what they’re trying to do, but they just haven’t clicked with me yet.