Lycos' new Side Search feature adds a new link to search results that lets you easily preview pages without having to click back and forth to the result page.
Each search result now includes a "fast forward" link that simultaneously displays the underlying web page and also opens up a new pane in the left side of your browser window with your search result page. The side search pane includes the search box with your query terms, the result list, and "next" and "back" buttons that make it quick and easy to flip back and forth between result pages.
Internet Explorer's search button works in similar fashion, providing MSN search results. You can customize this feature to specifically search Lycos, but this only works with IE. Lycos' new Side Search also works with Netscape browsers, though not with other browsers such as Opera.
Using side search has several advantages. First, it makes it easy to preview we pages without moving away from the search result page. This preview function is similar to WiseNut's Sneak-a-Peak and Vivisimo's Preview link. Both of these, however, use frames to maintain the search result page. Lycos' side search shows the complete underlying page without framing it.
Another advantage of using side search is that it's very fast. Results are presented as bare-bones linked titles, which load very quickly in the side search panel. This makes moving from one result screen to the next is significantly faster, since the links load more quickly and there's no need to scroll to the bottom of the result page -- just click the "next" button to see the next page.
Though seemingly a simple change to Lycos' user interface, it's apparently catching on with users. "Side search traffic has jumped 50% since we launched this in just a few days," said Tom Wilde, general manager of search services for Lycos. Side Search now represents close to 20% of our traffic."
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