AltaVista Redesigns, Again
AltaVista has once again undertaken another major redesign of its service, the fourth in less than a year. AltaVista says the latest changes are primarily aimed at making it easier for users to navigate within the service and then outwards to what they are looking for. While AltaVista's heart is in the right place, I don't feel this latest attempt makes life any easier. If anything, there's an overload of information. Links, tabs and color boxes seem to be everywhere, competing for attention.
Rather than tell you how to find the new and interesting stuff among the clutter, I'll just highlight the important points and provide direct links at the end of this article.
+ Perform a search from the home page, and you'll discover that AltaVista now highlights your search words with either italics or bold print, where they appear in the web page listings.
+ The results page itself is actually cleaner, focusing mainly on matches from the crawler-based index. Suggested directory categories and Ask AltaVista responses no longer seem to appear.
+ Use the "Find Results In" box that appears near the top of the results page to send your query to one of several specialty search engines that AltaVista operates. For example, a search for "toshiba portege" could be sent to AltaVista shopping search engine by clicking on the "Products" link or against human-compiled listings by clicking on the "Directories" link.
+ A new Power Search page allows you to finally make use of AltaVista's powerful commands without having to know any special syntax. A nice touch is a pop-up box that displays what domains belong to particular countries, which can be helpful when trying to narrow down searches. Most people will be far better served by this page than the "Advanced Search" page, which remains offered.
+ A new Search Guide area is designed to provide examples of searching in different topics areas, such as the Summer Olympics.
+ A new Entertainment search area is designed to allow you to search and get matching image files, audio and MP3 files, video clips and web pages and radio stations, all on the same page. AltaVista has also made changes that it says should provide more relevant entertainment results. They've done this by generally defaulting the searches to bring back pages from sites they've automatically identified as being related to entertainment, rather than from the web as a whole. This only works when you are within the entertainment area itself.
+ Radio stations are a complete new media type that can be found, but the functionality sounds better than it seems. Internet or terrestrial radio sites listed in response to a query may not actually be playing the song or artist you searched for, even though they are listed. Instead, they may appear simply because they've defined themselves as somehow relevant to that artist or song.
+ A great new feature is the "Search Trends" area, also called AltaVista A-List. Here, AltaVista is highlighting what we are searching for. Lycos has been doing something similar for over a year, and it's always fun reading (yesterday's headline -- Pokemon finally slips from the number one search spot after 30 weeks running). I'm glad to see AltaVista also offering a glimpse into what we search for and how we do it. Hopefully, they'll also add an archive of past postings.
AltaVista Power Search Page
AltaVista Search Guides
If you agree AltaVista is too cluttered, don't worry -- that's why they offer you the clean, fast Raging Search site.
Go's Pure Search Site
Go appears to have quietly rolled out a pure search site similar to AltaVista's Raging Search.
What People Search For
More ways to see how we search.