free html hit counter Quintura Launches New UI | John Battelle's Search Blog

Quintura Launches New UI

By - February 26, 2007

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Remember Quintura (some previous coverage), a visual search engine? TC reports a new UI launched today sporting tag clouds of a sort.

Now, the quick and easy way to grok an engine, not that it’s in any way defensible, is to do a vanity search. But alas, you can’t link to search results on Quintura. Fix that, folks! It does show the tag “king” for “john battelle”. Hmmm.


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14 thoughts on “Quintura Launches New UI

  1. Yakov says:

    John, if you type in “John Battelle” you may get a better tag cloud. Try it out! Clicking an icon next to a search term/tag, you can visit web pages right from the tag cloud making Quintura easy to use for simple search queries.

  2. JG says:

    Oh, this is fantastic! What a great example of a query expansion and enhancement tool!

    As I said in January, when I was looking to purchase GPS devices this holiday season, I had to manually federate my search to a bunch of engines: G, Y, M, A, and Quintura. I was looking for a very specific type of information: I wanted to find reviews of a product in which the reviewer actually described using a certain functionality of the device in a certain way. I wanted to know whether the GPS units I was considering purchasing worked in the way that I wanted to use them. This information was not available in the spec sheet of the products.

    I found a bunch of good reviews on the various GYMA engines, but ultimately it was when on Quintura, using the previous version of their query expansion cloud, that I found a review where someone used the device in exact the way I was interested. And it was through using this expansion cloud that was able to come up with the right query formulation, that allowed me to eventually find the information. Ask, MSN, and Yahoo also do a little bit of query expansion suggestion, and I’ve found that useful as well. But Quin takes it to a whole new level.

    And note the sheer Google-ness of the philosophy: Users don’t like to do work. So rather than forcing the user to read through all the documents in the ranked list, and manually come up with query expansion terms, themselves, Quintura gives you a nice overview of the space of likely expansion terms, lets you understand that space, and then lets you quickly chose terms with one mouse-click. Ironically, this is even more Googly than Google at the moment. Google offers no such tools, and forces the user to do more work.

    It’s exciting to see innovations like this.

  3. nmw says:

    the linking *used* to work (must be a bug).

    like the new way they’ve divied up the screen.

    where do they get the logos from?

  4. JG says:

    nmw’s comment about the divvying up of the screen reminds me of a contention that I have long made on this blog. Query enhancement tools come at the expense of advertisements.

    Look how big and beautiful, easy on the eyes and the brain, the Quintura expansion cloud is. And notice how when you mouse-over, it offers even more refinement terms. That takes up a lot of room, a lot of screen real estate. Real estate that you can now no longer shows ads on.

    I have heard Matt Cutts try to debunk, time and again, the contention that SERPs and ads are not independent. I think this Quintura interface is a fair debunking of that debunking. The expansion cloud is essentially an alternate representation of the SERP. It is an alternate representation of the SERP, because what happens in the cloud affects the SERP, and what happens in the SERP affects the cloud.

    So now, if you want to be able to allow users easier and better access (improvements) into the SERP information, you show this cloud. But if you show this cloud, you now no longer have room for ads!

    Even if SERPs are not consciously degraded, it becomes impossible for Google to consciously enhance them, using mechanisms such as Quintura’s.. because to do so would mean showing fewer advertisements. Ads get in the way of offering better results.

    Or am I not seeing something, here? Someone, please debunk me. One way to debunk me would be to show that the cloud + SERP is not actually an improvement over the SERP, alone. If the cloud does not offer improvements, Cutts’ objections remain founded. But if it does, then some of Google’s claims about the independence of ads need to be toned down.

  5. epictum says:

    I don’t know about this one… it’s different, for sure. And I can appreciate the amount of coding it took to build this, but I don’t see any real daily application with this. It lags a bit on the search… and, well frankly, I’d rather use Google. I wish the cloud was smoother, too, with a zoom in/out & pan action — if the goal is to make search more fun and interactive, that is. At least, it’s cool to see what programmers are up to these days =)

  6. JG says:

    When you say it lags a bit on search, you mean the relevance of the results lag? Or do you mean the quickness/response time lags?

    If the latter, then yes, this is indeed a usability issue almost as important as, if not equal to, relevance. The Cranfield experiments pretty much make that same point.

    But in all seriousness, answer me this: Suppose the ranked list portion of the screen was (1) exactly the same as, and (2) equally quick as Google. Suppose in fact that the ranked list portion -was- Google. Which would you rather see, next to the ranked list. Would you rather see this nice big cloud of query expansion and modification suggestions? Or would you rather see advertisements? I am serious here.. which would you prefer?

    Which would help you find more relevant information, the ads or the query expansion cloud? Honestly.. which would it be?

  7. epictum says:

    Hey JG – Sorry for the delay in response. You’re probably going to be real disappointed with me, but I would still rather use Google over Quintura… most of the time. I’ll give you an example from today to defend my answer.

    My client wanted to have a WordPress blog created that somewhat matched his existing site — 3 column layout + header… very standard. Now, I could’ve logged onto Quintura, waited for the program to load, waited to get results for “3 column wordpress themes,” and managed to sift through the spiderweb of results. Instead, I typed “3 column wordpress themes” into Google, clicked on the sponsored link, which it found under a second, and got exactly what I wanted. My client is one of those people who needs things “done yesterday,” so I take advantage of every second that I can save.

    Don’t get me wrong. Quintura has found a very unique and awesome way to display the SERP. But I find it unnatural to navigate. 1) I’m used to viewing results — the important information — on the left side 2) The cloud gets so cluttered after a while that it makes searching difficult 3) It’s not as quick as Google. I’m not saying I won’t ever use it. In fact, this discussion will probably make me want to use it more. But from a more practical viewpoint — working under tight deadlines — it’s just something I couldn’t spend my time on to get used to. Hopefully, that makes sense =)

  8. JG says:

    epictum: No need to apologize for any delay :-) I hear what you are saying, and what you are saying makes sense…but I am not disappointed because I think you misunderstood what I was asking. So, let me try and rephrase it, and then you can really disappoint me for sure :-) Ok, here goes:

    Forget Quintura.com itself for the moment. Just take the idea of Quintura. And if you don’t like the query suggestions on the left, move ‘em to the right, instead. It’s two lines of code, not a big deal.

    Now, since we are not actually talking about Quintura, but about the idea that is Quintura, imagine for a moment that same Quintura interface, only with Google as the ranked list provider. Furthermore, let’s imagine, through the magic of AJAX’s asynchonous updating, that the normal Google ranked list appears just as instantaneously as you are accustomed to. No reason for it not to. Wrap the Google SERPs in an AJAX layer, and you do not have to wait for the whole page to load. The SERPs can appear immediately, with your accustomed Google speed.

    Then, in the 2-3 seconds it takes you to skim the first few items in the Google-powered ranked list, the cloud suddenly, asynchronously appears. Are you with me? Do you know what I mean, here? This is the hypothetical system I am asking you about.

    So what I am asking you is, once you’ve skimmed the (very quickly appearing) ranked list and not found what you were looking for, would you rather turn to the cloud, or turn to the advertisements? Remember, we’re not talking specifically Quintura here. We’re talking the idea of a Google-speed, Google quality ranked list appearing, and then either a cloud or an ad appearing, after that. And for good measure, let’s put the ranked list on the left, where you are used to seeing it.

    That’s the question I am asking. Don’t think about it in terms of what actually exists right now. Think about it in terms of what could easily be possible. Which would you prefer, the cloud or the ad?

  9. JG says:

    Ah, you know what? I think I just misread you, too. I see now that when you searched Google for “3 column wordpress themes”, you didn’t actually click on a SERP. You clicked on an ad! Ok, so I think you really are telling me that you prefer the ad to the cloud, because you went straight for that ad, right?

    But now I am even more confused. Because I followed your instructions exactly. Here is what happened:

    First, I tried your exact same query on Google: “3 column wordpress themes”. The very first Google SERP was a link to “themes.wordpress.net”, and on that page there was an immediately obvious box that enabled sorting by theme type; one of the theme types was “3 column”. I clicked it and got a page filled with fifteen 3-column themes.

    And the second SERP link on Google was a link to the WordPress 3 column “kubrick” theme.

    Either one of those top two SERPs would have satisfied your information need, and quickly gotten you to what you wanted. There was no reason at all IMHO for you to click the advertisement on the right, because SERPs that you are used to looking at on the left had what you needed.

    In fact, because I followed your query exactly, I saw that there was only a single advertisement shown as a result of the query “3 column wordpress themes”. That ad, once I clicked it, brought me straight to the “bloggingthemes.com” home page. I looked at that page. There was no helpful sorting mechanism to help me quickly find only those themes that were 3-columned. So I had to manually start scrolling down through the list, looking at the thumbnail of every single theme. I was able to find one theme that looked vaguely 3-column. None of the others did.

    So why was this ad better than the top Google SERP? With the top Google SERP, I found at least fifteen 3-column pages. With the ad, I found only one. And it took some effort to actually locate it on the page.

    To me at least, it seems like you needed neither the Google ad nor the Quintura cloud. Your regular Google query did not “fail”. The SERP had what you needed immediately.

    So what I am asking you is, for those cases where you cannot find what you are looking for in the SERP, would you rather have an ad on the right, or a cloud on the right? What would help you, more, in those cases where you would actually stop looking at the SERPs, and turn your attention to the items on the right? Assume, as I said above, that it all appears just as fast as you are normally accustomed.

    Forget the speed issues for a moment. Forget those queries where the SERPs solve your problem. What do you want to have, when the SERPs fail? Now I am fully prepared to be disappointed by you. But I just wanted to make sure we are clear, first, on what I was actually asking.

  10. epictum says:

    Speed and page layout aside (AND if the cloud appeared as a list, not that spiderweb… I know, another layout issue =P), then, yes, I would agree with you. I would not need the ads. But I also wouldn’t mind them.

  11. JG says:

    So the ads would not be more helpful that the list of terms. The list of terms would not be more helpful than the ads. This is what you are saying, correct? Both the ads, and the list, are equally “relevant”. Because if the ads were more relevant, then you would prefer the ads over the list-ized cloud. Or vice versa. Right? Fair enough. Thanks :-)

  12. nmw says:

    hey, they fixed it the “save link” feature — kinda

    If you wanna see something *really funky*, try this one:

    http://www.quintura.com/?request=26+3f&searchvia=1&engineoverride=&page=1&savelink

    (make sure you’ve got the whole thing — this comes after the slash :)

    ?request=26+3f&searchvia=1&engineoverride=&page=1&savelink

    ;D nmw

  13. epictum says:

    Maybe they fixed 26+3f, because a query for 26+4f comes up with similar funky results. Anyway, I’ll respond to my last comment, since this discussion was highlighted a few days ago =)

    I wasn’t trying to imply that the SERP rendered results of equivalent relevance to the adverts. The SERP does, in fact, produce more relevant results than any commercial listing. But I like looking at ads (some, anyway)! Marketers come up with some brilliant ideas sometimes, so I like to endulge them on their creative venture and see how long my attention span will last. Quintura’s cloud, on the other hand, is perfect for the ad-free search realm. But it also froze on IE 7 just recently.

  14. JG says:

    Heh, nmw, that is pretty funny.

    Let me, in a rare defense of Google :-), point out one thing I think Google does right: It decides when showing no ads is more appropriate than showing a bad ad. Even if that bad ad might receive some clicks, Google wisely and judiciously decides that it is sometimes better not to show anything at all.

    It may be useful for Quintura to take a play from this book. Sometimes, as shown in your example, showing no query expansion terms would be better than showing them.

    That said, when the query is sensible, I personally would rather see navigation clouds than ads. I went back to the old classic Google query example, “cellular phones”, and tried it both on Google and Quintura.

    On Google, I was overwhelmed by a crapload of ads. Buy this! Buy that!

    On Quintura, I was presented with a good set of refinement options: plans, gsm, history, battery, guides, information, store, etc.

    Quintura actually really helped me find and narrow the type of information I could be looking for. On Google I only got one type of information: Buy a phone/plan.