Quintura is the latest in the line of visual search engines such as Kartoo, Mooter and WebBrain. Quintura basically takes your search term, runs a search and then translates the results into a tag cloud effect on the screen. Users can then simply look at the results (powered by Yahoo) listed under the tag cloud and click on the link as per normal, or they can explore words displayed in the semantic map to focus the query more closely.
The results section of the page is not exciting - title, URL, keywords in context and sometimes the size of the page, but that's about it. I'd like to have seen more information, and keywords in context are no more than a word either side, which doesn't provide any guidance at all. This section of the page is also squeezed into the bottom half of the screen, giving it a cramped feeling. This is probably the weakest element of the search engine, and clearly the one that the developers spent least time on because they wanted to get onto the interesting and fun section of the semantic display.
This is where Quintura does become more interesting and quite fun to play with. After the search runs the search terms appear on the screen and are surrounded with other hopefully appropriate terms. My search on 'search engine watch' for example returned keyword suggestions such as 'blog', 'forum', 'search engines' and so on. The closer to the search terms, the larger the keyword suggestions (both in terms of font size and bold), the more relevant they are deemed. Holding the mouse over a term - note that you don't need to click - will display a new set of results in the bottom window and will also show another keyword cloud overlaying the original, which does get a little confusing at times, and it's quite hard to work out exactly what you're searching on.
However, it's an interesting approach to search, and users who enjoy different approaches to the display of search results will enjoy using it.
It does obviously have more flexibility though, as it's a reasonably well rounded search engine. Keywords can be dropped from the semantic display by clicking on the appropriate icon, and any associated keywords are also dropped at the same time. Excluding 'baseball' from the search on my name also excluded 'statistics' for example. Words can be added to a search by simply clicking into a blank area in the screen and typing them into the search box that appears; words can be excluded in a similar manner as well with the usual minus sign in front. It's possible to save searches as a favorite or it can be emailed to a friend or colleague.
There are additional things that I'd like to see with Quintura; a more indepth 'help' guide, RSS feeds, greater search functionality by type - at the moment it's limited to web or images, and news, blogs and so on would be a nice addition. Equally however it's in beta mode, so it would be unfair to be overly critical.
As previously mentioned, people who enjoy visual search results pages will get a kick out of this one, while for everyone else it's a bit of an oddity they'll ignore. While the semantic element is clearly the emphasis I personally found the cramped results section too irritating to want to use this engine for any length of time.
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