Hitting the (SERF) Waves w/ Zuula

By Buck Dossey, Associate Director, Client Strategy & Development

For my SERF, I chose Zuula. This is a great meta search engine that combines most popular search engines and provides easy access across search categories and result providers. If you’re a meta search user, I think you should definitely browse by and check it out.

I found Zuula very easy to use, and although I don’t personally have a huge need to change search providers frequently, I can see how it could be valuable for some of the specific vertical search engines, including Job providers such as Monster and CareerBuilder which usually have very different results. It’s good to see that there still are jobs out there for Pirates. Arrrrgh! (holding right index finger like a hook with one eye closed) For those of you that like Very Short Lists, here’s the down-and-dirty on Zuula:

  • Familiar Layout: Recognize something familiar when you land at http://www.Zuula.com? Zuula borrows from Google’s highly successful designs. This makes learning the engine much easier for newbies who are already used to Google.
  • Customizable tabs: Zuula offers users the opportunity to edit the tabs for each of their search categories. This is particularly useful because of the growing number of search engines – the more engines out there, the harder it is to represent them on the Zuula interface, giving way to the need for organization and personalization
  • Easy Search History: The Zuula meta engine allows you to see your recent query history. This is particularly useful if you’re navigating between engines during your quest to find more information.
  • Toolbar Support: Zuula allows users to download and install two versions of its search app – in the built-in search widget found in most browsers, and a completely independent browser add-on.

Overall, Zuula is a great way to browse quickly and easily between engines and verticals. However, there are a few things that I think would help take it to the next level.

  • Speed / Asynchronous Results: It seems like there is a little bit of caching going on, as repeated searches seem to process faster than new searches. My thinking is that it would be great if while I’m viewing the results for one tab, that the next tab should be loading results and speeding up my experience. Since you know I’m there because I like changing tabs during the same query, take advantage of it and load new results while I’m doing something else.
  • Tab Editing: This is a great feature, but it would be better if editing of the tabs was available without leaving the search results page. Casual users won’t have the need to get into the nuts and bolts of editing the tabs, but the might if they realize how easy it is.
  • Keep Innovating: Zuula is a fun engine to use, but will easily get lost in the crowd if new features don’t meet the pace of demand.

According to both Compete and Google Trends more and more folks are using the engine every day. So what are you waiting for? Check it out! You’ll be glad you did.


Anonymous said...

Thanks for the review of Zuula, Buck. You've done a great job summarizing the key reasons it's a powerful search tool.

A few quick comments ...

First, a lot of tab customization actually *can* be done on the search results page. In particular, tabs can be dragged to the right or left using the "grips" on the right of each tab. The only thing you can't do with a tab on the search results page is delete it. To do this, you have to go to the Preferences page.

Second, as much as Zuula excels for everyday web searching, it really goes into warp when it comes to image search and blog search. Do a couple of image searches at Zuula, compare the results across tabs, and you'll quickly see why it's great to have easy access to results from multiple search engines. The results for the same image search can vary tremendously from one engine to another. The same holds true for blog search.

Finally, you definitely can expect to see more innovation coming from the Zuula development team. In fact, we'll soon be rolling out some very useful additions to our image search functionality -- and that's just the first of the changes you'll see in 2009.

Again ... thanks for the kind words, and best wishes for the New Year!

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