Ask Japan : Searching Outside the Box
Ask.jp, owned locally and somewhat independently in Japan by a customer service call center firm, has been doing some creative integration of Bloglines into their search engine which I believe foreshadow’s what Ask.com may do as a whole one day with Bloglines.
For example, when a blog search is performed on Ask.jp, blog results include an “Add to Bloglines” link which is similar to what Yahoo is doing in their social media oriented search results.
Besides Bloglines integration, I really like their non-linear search box.
With blog, local and image search buttons along the bottom line of the search box, leading up to Web Search, Ask.jp is displaying the power of their alternative niche search functionality : showcasing those search functions in the natural eye path of even the Japanese user, who will read from right to left, up to down in the traditional world, but left to right online.
Ask.jp capitalizes on the dual eye path behavioral of the Japanese user who would at first glance probably concentrate on the search button, then curve around the bottom, doing an optical 180 (right to left) back to the search box and logo, then another 180 mousepath over the Blog, Local and Image buttons (left to right) before clicking on Web Search.
One has to wonder how this search box format effects the usage of blog, local, and image search on Ask.jp. I’d expect it to have a much more positive effect on spreading the search index wealth than the tab system used on Google and Yahoo.