A slimmer and slicker Ask Jeeves is on the Web after a yearlong makeover.
The search service with the smiling butler mascot (www.ask.com) is launching new software to present more content, such as news headlines and pictures, directly in search results, saving users from having to click through to the Web sites with the original data.
Most search engines are moving toward giving users the answers they want instead of requiring them to leave the site; Yahoo rolled out similar functions this month. Each search engine, however, has its own notions about what content belongs at the top of the digital haystack.
At the new Jeeves, for example, if you type in "photos of Dalmatians" or "What does a Dalmatian look like?" it will present images of spotted dogs, rather than just a list of Web sites containing pictures. Similarly, type "George W. Bush" into the box and Jeeves will display news headlines about the president along with related Web sites. Sometimes, Jeeves will ask for more information. Type in "movie times Maryland," for instance, and it will request your Zip code.
"Our users told us they don't want to go through all these steps to get what they want," said Jim Lanzone, senior vice president of product management at Ask Jeeves.
Jeeves has cleaned up its layout and simplified its descriptions (tools to narrow searches that once read "You may find these options useful" now just say "Refine your query"). The site also says it's boosted its computing resources to speed page-loading times over dial-up Internet connections.
Ask Jeeves opened for business six years ago, hiring editors to assemble a database of questions and Web pages with answers for them. But as the Google search engine took over the market in recent years, Jeeves bought several technology firms and switched its emphasis to automated search software instead of a human-compiled Web index. It still lags behind Google in market share, but the company is a player in business search and reported its first profit a few months ago.
Brainerd Dispatch ©2013. All Rights Reserved.