Technology Evangelist spotted that Yahoo is trying a new search interface at AllTheWeb. I love seeing this type of experimentation and am always looking for new ideas that we might be able to apply to site search. Google has a similar test area at searchmash.com.
The Yahoo experiment has an ajax search box that shows the search results after you complete each word with out having to hit enter. It also shows suggestions below which you can use the arrows to navigate to. Once you navigate to a suggestion the search results appear without you hitting enter. X1 from IdeaLab has some similar concepts for their desktop search (which powers the Yahoo desktop search). The main difference here is X1 does partial matching on a word – so will show you results as soon as you start typing, whereas this interface waits until you’ve typed a word.
I wasn’t overwhelmed by this and I doubt this type of search will be widely used unless it improves significantly. It is difficult to try to change the model of how search works that people have in their head. Currently this is something like – you type words in and press enter – or the search button.
People are used to having previous searches appear below the search box. This has been a feature provided by browsers for years. However Yahoo’s implementation is non-standard because the search appears as soon as you navigate to the suggested search. If you press enter it returns to the previous search you did. This seemed confusing to me. Even though it’s not perfect I think it’s great they’re experimenting and trying out different ideas.