A9 Category Archive
Yesterday, A9 had a major redesign of its site along with a major accompanying loss of features. The A9 announcement notes that they have "redesigned the A9.com website to make it easier and quicker to discover information from more sources." It has more of a Web 2.0 look and feel, and I think they have achieved a more usable site. The databases are grouped together in the left column and are customizable. Searchers can build their own groups from the more than 400 source databases. Each column (one per database) now features continuous scrolling (like the beta of Live search used to offer and the Live Image search database still does).
It looks like both Alexa and A9 have switched from using an abbreviated Google Web database to using MSN's (although it is labeled Live.com which is more of a different front end to the older MSN Search database rather than a different underlying database). At the moment, there is no longer any image search at A9 (previous one was from Google). Nor do I see Google text ads on Amazon anymore.
A9 now makes it easier to find the Amazon BlockView, street-level images in combination with the newly launched A9 Maps beta site. The map date is NAVTEQ via MapQuest. See details in their Aug. 16 announcement.
A9 has improved and updated it toolbar, which now runs on Internet Explorer, Firefox, Mozilla, and Netscape. It has a customizable search menu, improved performance, and direct access to various OpenSearch columns. Version 1.3 introduced the capability for Web site publishers to provide a menu of information to toolbar users via an XML file. This data is then displayed under the Site Info drop down menu. A9 calls this a WebMenu. See July 28th announcement and more details on adding data to the Site Info link.
A9 announces new interface changes:
- More Intuitive Search Column Selection: The buttons on the right have been replaced with checkboxes on the top. These checkboxes let you choose what to search. The checkboxes appear not only on the search results page, but also on the home page, so you can decide in advance what to search.
- Easier Access to Additional Search Columns: In addition to checkboxes for the default set of searches, a "More Choices" dropdown provides easy access to additional searches. (The contents of this menu will change over time.) You can also use the menu to access over 200 additional OpenSearch columns.
- Personalized Tools on the Home Page: Your History, Your Bookmarks, Your Diary, and Discover are shown on the home page only when you turn them on. These tools are only shown when you are signed in.
- Location Search: The Yellow Pages location box opens automatically if you check the Yellow Pages checkbox. This lets you enter the location before you search.
- Single Column Mode: You can now set a preference to show only one column at a time, instead of showing multiple columns. You can enable this on the preferences page by selecting "Only one column can be open". Only signed in users can change their preferences.
- In Line Help on Preference page: The preferences page now has in line explanations of some of the preferences.
- More Vertical Space for Search Results: You can easily show and hide the column selectors on the search results page so that you can see more results.
- Faster Site: The home page is now much smaller and loads faster.
- Choice of Checkboxes or Buttons: Some of our users prefer the new checkboxes at the top of the page to select search results. Other users preferred the buttons of the classic web site. You can now choose either style on the preferences page.
- Choice of Tabs or Multiple Tools on the home page: If you are signed in, you can choose between one tool at a time using tabs, or multiple tools in columns similar to the search results page.
- Drag and Drop Changes: Drag and Drop to the bookmarks column is off by default on the search results page. Drag and Drop allows links from other columns to be dragged into the bookmarks column, making it easy to make any search result into a bookmark. However, some users found that it interfered with built in browser drag and drop which allows dragging links to other browsers. You can turn Drag and Drop on in the preferences page or at the bottom of the Your Bookmarks column.
- Fixed redirect bug that made it appear that the A9.com site had an error if the search result site was unavailable.
A9 has been testing some interface changes which are now live. These include a revised Column Selection, a "More Choices" drop down menu for access to additional database, an optional Single Column Mode, more vertical space for results, and more personalization options. More details in the June 23rd announcement.