Quintura: A New Way to Search the Web?
Quintura provides a set of traditional search results and a tag cloud based on your search target. The tag cloud is navigated by hovering. This technology offers an interactive, albeit limited, drill-down capability that is unique and engaging.
For our test case we searched on the phrase "Manny Ramirez", quotes included. At the right of the results widow we got a traditional list of results, in the tradition of Google or Yahoo. None of the links appeared to be sponsored, which was refreshing. According to Quintura, we were looking at the first 10 of 13500000 results.The navigation links at the bottom of the window allow searchers to jump forward in increments of 10 results per page.
Along with the traditional result set, the screen also included a tag cloud. The 20 phrases (droplets? condensation?) in the cloud were links. Hovering over a droplet dynamically added text to the original query and produced a new set of search results on the opposite side of the window. Pretty cool. For example, hovering over the word Dodgers in the cloud reconfigured the search engine to search for the phrase "Manny Ramirez" Dodgers and then executed the new search. The cloud also reconfigured itself to contain a new set of phrases based on the new search request.
The inference is that the search engine analyzes the results of your search in order to come up with popular phrases for the tag cloud. Some phrases in the cloud are in larger type and sometimes bolder than their neighbors. The fonts and weights obviously mean something, but it's not immediately obvious what that something is. There are no other visual cues such as numeric counts or site rankings in the cloud tags. A little more feedback is desirable.
One possible shortcoming we noticed was that selecting a phrase from the tag cloud automatically bumps the previously selected phrase from the search query. In other words, we couldn't drill down more than one level. After searching on "Manny Ramirez", hovering on Dodgers, and receiving a new set of search results based on the phrase "Manny Ramirez" Dodgers we yearned to hover over another tag in the cloud and add that phrase to the search query. Instead, the new phrase simply replaces the previous phrase. Hovering is not additive.
Another quirk: throughout our testing the URL in the address bar never changed. Regardless of how we built the search phrase or navigated the tag cloud, the URL remained a simple http://www.quintura.com/. For most end-users this won't be an issue. However, if you're in the habit of cobbling scripts with custom URLs that include command line arguments, you might reach a dead-end with Quintura. Perhaps they offer an API for third-party developers.
Play with it. Give it a few minutes of your time. If you're a Google or Yahoo user, you'll find the cloud unique. You might not abandon the major engines forever, but Quintara could become a useful adjunct. As you find more useful features, let us know!