ManagedQ. David Stat has sent me details of his team’s new search startup called ManagedQ, which aims to combine a ‘highly visual interface’ with ‘natural language processing’ to improve search. In simple terms it’s trying to provide search at the completely other extreme from the sparse Google interface.
Search engines are a difficult thing to deliver, mostly because we have grown accustomed to the market leader, and therefore judge everything against Google. Newcomers therefore have a mountain to climb before they even start, and this service is no exception.
The premise sounds nice, and it’s tempting to be carried along by the obvious time and effort that has gone into the graphical user interface that they have built, but after about 3 minutes you suddenly realise that the interface actually gets in the way of doing the search. It’s not that this is a *bad* interface per se, it’s just that it doesn’t do the things it sets out to do. If I’m going to be brutal – and I don’t mean to belittle the work of David’s Stanford grad team – the results page is a confusing nightmare. And apparently, this is a toned down version? Wow!
The results are apparently culled straight from Google, so the quality of the data looks fine, but all those boxes, nav and text bars, sidebar text and black background just wrecks the experience and makes it impossible to scan through the results fast enough to make the experience worthwhile. I gave up after a few minutes out of sheer frustration and eye-ache.
The floor is littered with stunted visual search engines (check out Kartoo and Grokker which we’ve mentioned before on the Ferret) and they all suffer from the same problem. They over complicate a process which is about as simple as it gets right now, and more importantly they don’t add any value to the search process, either in quality of search results or speed of access. Put simply, they’re just too darn clunky and confusing.
Don’t get me wrong, there is definitely a place for visual search, either for web newcomers or perhaps more logically for specialist vertical markets (e.g. Like.com) but as for these mainstream attempts to woo us away from the mighty G., sorry but it’s just not going to happen until someone delivers real value.