There’s a “no results” page over at Mahalo today that I think is worth taking a look at.
When we don’t have a hand-written result (which is often since we’re in build mode) we return a tabbed interface of your favorite services like Google, Delicious, YouTube and Flickr. Your search is, of course, canned in each tab so you don’t have to retype it. You can also set any of the services as your default, so if you’re a fan of Ask over Yahoo and Google you’re all set.
Here I’ve searched for “bmw ipod connector” on Mahalo.
Now, we have many pages related to BMWs and iPods, but we haven’t done one on this long-tail search. In the design below we show you a couple of Mahalo pages you can “also try.” These pages like iPod Accessories and BMW 335xi MIGHT have what you’re looking for, but if they don’t you’ve got Google right below it.
Now, if Google doesn’t have what you want you can very easily switch over to another service, like say Delicious, and do the “BMW ipod connector” result there. So, what we’re doing with this new tabbed interface is giving the user the BEST possible experience when we don’t have a hand-written result. I think it’s very unique and I’m finding that the process of getting a human search if possible and a range of everyone else if not is really solid.
If you didn’t want to make a switch from Ask, Yahoo, MSN, or Google to Mahalo now you really have no excuse! Clearly the human results are better than the machines ones, and if we haven’t done your human result we give you not one search engines but all of them. Other services are not too keen on linking to their competitors, but Mahalo is all about helping users so we don’t have a problem doing that (also, we’re starting from nothing, so we got nothing to lose right?).
If Delicious didn’t have what you want it turns out that there are actually videos on YouTube. Now, i know this is not some revolutionary advancement, people have being doing tabbed stuff like this forever. However, it is a really nice user experience when combined with human search. In fact, the tabbed interface you see on this long tail search is EXACTLY what our Guides would do when build a single human curated pages. So, in fact this tabbed interface is the precursor to a human result. In other words, the next best thing!
Mahalo for taking the time and do let me know what you think!