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Ask Wipes Jeeves Away With Ajax

David A. Utter
Staff Writer
Published: 2006-02-27


Ask.com has cleaned up its homepage by removing the long-time iconic butler figure and adding search tools in an Ajax navigation box to the site.

The dominant red swath across the middle of the Ask.com homepage has been shifted to the top of the page and reduced to a simple narrow bar, widened and rounded at the left. Jeeves is gone, of course, a decision made by SES New York 2006 keynote speaker and IAC CEO Barry Diller several months ago.

In Jeeves' place, Ask.com has followed the other major search engines in providing a very minimal interface for users to begin a search with a query. Google knew for a long time the whole point of the search box was to get users to the results, where the paid search ads and sponsored links waited to draw clicks and revenue.

Ask, like Yahoo, has provided a little extra functionality to the otherwise Spartan look of its search home page. To the right of the Ask search box, the Search Tools box, with its Web 2.0 rounded corners, awaits.

The first eight options for different queries, like Images and Local, change the interface to show example queries. Then there is Desktop Search, which searches the computer and emails, and allows users to upload information to MyStuff, like photos for sharing. A link to Bloglines brings up that RSS feed reader service.

There are ten more tools available by clicking the More link at the bottom of search tools. One link goes to MyStuff, and another displays the Advanced Search form. The rest of the links focus on specific information, like Movies, Stocks, and Mobile Content in the form of ringtones and wallpapers.

Longtime users of Google will recognize a lot of Ask's functions as one they can perform through Google Search directly. Ask can do those functions from the main search box directly as well. Users who already know to enter "weather 32830" or "define daguerreotype" will get Weather or Dictionary results from Ask.

For those users, the Search Tools box can be minimized with a click, leaving a narrow column of icons on the right side of the page to be expanded as needed.

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About the Author:
David Utter is a staff writer for WebProNews covering technology and business.

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