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Feb 28 2006
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A Conversation With Ask.com
This morning I had the chance to catch up with Daniel Read and Ryan Massie of Ask.com, as they ran around SES answering reporter and analyst questions about the site re-launch.

The site upon first glance appears to have some appealing aesthetic changes, but after a test drive (and a demo from Read, and Massie), it is much more than that. We will review the site and include a more in-depth look at the conversation in an upcoming Advisory, and a piece in next week�s Local Media Journal.

For now, if you are looking for one example of an enhancement from a user perspective, check out the new mapping engine. This is fresh on my mind as we�ve recently completed an Advisory that compares the user experiences of the major mapping engines (not including Ask, as the release fell outside our production timeline). The Ajax-based functionality first made popular by the dynamic panning (dragable maps) in Google Maps initial launch is taken to a new level by Ask.

Users can escape the once requisite address boxes to the left and move address locations by clicking and dragging. New points on a map can be added by right clicking, and up to 10 points can be marked and directions given (both walking and driving) between them all. Now-standard satellite maps are also included, along with closer aerial images taken from airplanes (more on the new mapping features from Greg's post earlier).

It�s this kind of functionality that is a hallmark of the portal wars in gaining market share. Ask�s main goal in essence is to change its image from a niche search engine where people go to ask questions every once in a while to a general engine where users go every day. In other words, it's becoming more like Google and Yahoo! (while maintaining enough differentiated qualities to keep it unique). Jeeves� forced resignation is part of that re-branding.

It will be an uphill battle to gain search market share from the sector�s current giants. But this is a good start.
 
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posted by  Mike Boland at  15:08 | comments [0] | trackbacks [0]


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