Wednesday, February 21, 2007

CrossEngine: Searching the web from one place

CrossEngine looks like a very interesting tool for hard-core researchers who desire aggregations of information with as little wasted effort as possible. CrossEngine takes a simple query. For this case, I'll use the term "iPhone".

The first thing I notice is that the default search is going to Google, it's appropriate and retrieves the same results as a regular Google search. I can then look at the results in any of the other search engines, traditional, blog or even fine tune my desired results to .pdf or .ppt.

I switch the focus to looking for iPhone images, and it gives me choices from Google Images, Picassa, Flickr and several others.

The concept is sound, it's interesting and while it's been done before by other sites, this one is by far the most comprehensive search aggregator I've seen. The power in CrossEngine is its simplicity of concept and the time saved when doing comprehensive cross platform research and searches.

The critiques I have is that while this may never really catch on with the casual searcher, this is a good tool to any competitive intelligence professional, marketer, interactive marketer (just to list a few) to get good information in a short amount of time. The second thing I like about this site is that it allows people who aren't familiar with some of the lesser known search engines or social media sites, it gives users a chance to experience something that they haven't seen before.

I do however, have a few critiques.

My first exposure to the site was a bit confusing. Take a look at the screenshot below:

I'm a huge fan of usability and design... the layout, the green check mark, the overall look and feel didn't inspire a lot of interest, it didnt guide me where to go or what to do. While I could have clicked the "learn more" link, I'm a firm believer that any site should be intuitive... the user should instinctively know what to do within 8 seconds of landing on the page.

In my humble opinion, it's a powerful and useful service that hides behind a somewhat wonky design.

Now, I know that a lot of people are going to hate the fact that the entire thing is using frames. From my perspective, it seems that this aspect is more of a necessity than anything else. I cant link to any of my searches, I cant show people the results I've found and I found that a little annoying because I do it so often with other engines. When I'm preparing detailed analyses for my clients, I often cite sources. With CrossEngine, that's not really possible unless I go directly to Google or Flickr and repeat the search.

If I were to change anything, it would be that feature... or at least have a button where I could download the source link from CrossEngine.

Overall, I like the idea, I think it has potential and I plan on using it for my next analysis. If I find anything really useful or cool (or annoying), I'll post that later.