The Nexplore search engine has been released in beta. It’s fast, it’s busy, it’s fun and it’s pretty accurate. You can search the web, news, video, images, blogs and podcasts. It’s clearly aimed at social networking, it’s all very web 2.0.
“Our Web 2.0 application model uses innovative cloud-computing techniques to create a highly effective distributed search engine that easily scales to meet volume demands without compromising performance. We’ve combined this backend with a social overlay to fine tune and share results and a user interface built with advanced RIA technologies to create a compelling, highly productive user experience. NeXplore Search is poised for growth as users seek more effective and enjoyable ways to find the information they need.”
So they’ve made it fast using cloud computing and use RIA’s (Rich Internet Applications) to enhance interactivity and expressiveness. It’s quite different to the Google model, which is very centered on providing information and not necessarily creating a networking and rich environment like Nexplore.
I tried a couple of searches (to have a clear picture I’d have to do loads more to be fair). I search for 2 of my favourite things:
Google -> wikipedia, myspace, a random blog, random blog, random blog
Nexplore -> random blog, myspace, wikipedia, and the same random blogs as Google
Google -> wikipedia, wikipedia, yoga school, BBC, Amazon
Nexplore -> ashtanga.com (A very authoritative site), a yoga school, wikipedia, a yoga school, and ashtanga.com again.
So clearly in my searches Google has preferred wikipedia results, which is cool, because I might well want to know the definition of “Ashtanga yoga” or know who “The Breeders” are. Nexplore also provides that but starts with a random blog. Really the results are pretty much the same for some searches, just in a different order. Nexplore does better on “Ashtanga yoga” I think because it gives me a well known authoritative site rather than wikipedia first. Here the results weren’t the same as in Google.
Google gives me 4 video options in the results for “The Breeders”. Nexplore doesn’t do that. You have to search under “video”, so no universal search in the results.
I searched for myself and the results contained less instances of the person of the same name who works for NASA, so that’s fine.
Nexplore has a super busy interface, do not be duped by the very minimalistic landing search page. Under every result there’s a social media sharing option, a massive preview window pops up when you hover over the results at any time, there’s a wiki search box which is constantly on the right of the page…you see what I mean…it’s very busy. You can view result in a line, which makes them a bit hard to navigate through because there’s 25 results on a page. You can also just view the site preview, which looks a bit like a music library.
Nexplore does personalise results for you as you can bin them, preview them or save them. Google is looking into this too with the thumbs up or down thing. It also gives you a “popular” searches library which I like.
I’m not too sure about ad relevance as I get one for puppies for sale for “The Breeders” search when the engine has already established that it’s a rock band. For “Ashtanga yoga” 2 ads are relevant but one if for a hotel, which has a yoga class. But that hotel site isn’t really about ashtanga yoga. Maybe it was the best ad to display from the collection available.
So. I think Nexplore has good results, as good as Google in my short experiment, and way better than Cuil. I think it’s too busy, there’s too much going on, and I don’t like the preview popup. The other two option, gallery view and list just aren’t clear enough in my view because they don’t give enough info, which you get from the description. I like the personalisation. I like that it gave me authoritative sites at the top.
The social media button to share the site are on every result. This further crowds the interface. It’s a great idea though, just maybe it can be done a bit differently to relieve the interface of clutter. I hate all this popping up stuff! Also, I don’t like how the pictures display on the image search.
The verdict: I will use it for w while and see how it grows on me, after all every change takes a while to adjust to. I don’t want to write it off because I don’t like the clutter so early on. I might really like it all once I use it often. The results are good.
I’m really not ready to dump my classic, simple, Google interface, and the results are fine for my purposes. I think that it’s very hard for a new search engine to come along with new cool ideas, and this one has really tried hard. I’ll definitely persevere and see how I go.
Social media in this kind of engine is all done for the sites because of the button under every result. It gives them more chance at visibility than in Google.
The CTO, Dion Hinchcliffe runs a blog
called “Musings and ruminations on building great systems”. It’s really wordy but quite interesting so read it if you have the time. You can follow him on Twitter
You can also read about Nexplore at “Beyond Search
“, where Stephen Arnold gives his take on it.
If we did all migrate to Nexplore, I think we’d still Google things in it anyway.