Wednesday, May 16, 2007
Back in 2001, Eric asked for a brainstorm of a few "splashy" ideas in search. A designer and product manager at the time, I made a few mockups -- one of which was for 'universal search.' It was a sample search results page for Britney Spears that, in addition to web results, also had news, images, and groups results right on the same page. Even then, we could see that people could easily become overwhelmed with the number of different search tools available on Google -- let alone those that would be created over the next few years. This proliferation of tools, while useful, has outgrown the old model of search. We want to help you find the very best answer, even if you don't know where to look.
That mockup and early observations were the motivation behind the universal search effort we announced earlier today. And while that Britney Spears mockup was the start of Google's universal search vision, it was instantly obvious that this would be one of the biggest architectural, ranking, and interface challenges we would face at Google. Over several years, with the help of more than 100 people, we've built the infrastructure, search algorithms, and presentation mechanisms to provide what we see as just the first step in the evolution toward universal search. Today, we're making that first step available on google.com by launching the new architecture and using it to blend content from Images, Maps, Books, Video, and News into our web results.
With universal search, we're attempting to break down the walls that traditionally separated our various search properties and integrate the vast amounts of information available into one simple set of search results.
Here are a few of my favorite searches that show off the power of universal search:
python] will see links for "web," "blogs," "books," "groups," and "code," whereas [downtown los angeles] will show a different set of links. Also, in terms of integration and navigation, today we introduced a new universal navigation bar at the top of all Google web pages to provide easier navigation to your favorite Google products, such as Gmail.
While today's releases are big steps in making the world's information more easily accessible, these are just the beginning steps toward the universal search vision. Stay tuned!