At the end of February, I posted about a new search engine called Dumbfind. The engine is designed around tagging technology, and was offering a trial of a scheme for contextual advertising based on tags. Today, I’m going to combine my efforts by doing a follow-up on my own Dumbfind Adsonomy trial while talking about their user interface, my theme for the week.
My trial was very unsuccessful. I ran ads for two of my own websites, and received (according to my statistics) no referrals at all from Dumbfind.com. Zero. Zip. Nada. You get the point. I feel there are two major contributing factors to this.
The first has to do with Dumbfind’s traffic. An Alexa position of 44,315 (as of this writing) is respectable for a small business, but I also have to note that this is a recent increase of 95,000 positions. Maybe I’ll receive a few visits in the last two weeks of my trial, if this continues. But respectable positioning for a search engine is not the same as for a small service site. Dumbfind may be building their traffic, but it’s just not there yet.
The second flaw is from the design of their Adsonomy system. First, each ad only provides the attachment of 10 tags. Second, these tags must be selected from their tag database. This eliminated many potentially useful tags. If the tags being applied are maximally general, such as "search engine marketing", there is a greatly reduced chance they will bring up my ad – but Adsonomy didn’t permit terms which were regionally specific and associated with my keywords.
It is unclear how Adsonomy associates your selected tags with searches. One serious lack in the Adsonomy interface is any discussion of how it works! I was unable to define a search which caused my own ad to show up. Not a definitive test, by any means, but it does leave me wondering.
The Dumbfind search results are very awkwardly displayed. In my tests, I found it difficult to visually distinguish sponsored listings from actual search results. I also find it very difficult to understand the listings. An example listing:
The top line of these results tells you the url and title of the website. The font is small and not very obvious – for a while, I thought these were contextual advertising, partially because the name of the company doesn’t appear obviously in any of the following links. This is partially the fault of the site itself – they have optimized their titles for search terms but have not included their site name. However, the display of this information is entirely the responsibility of Dumbfind. I’m left confused due to three issues:
- The first element and only title level indicator of the site address in the results is smaller than most of the remaining text.
- The largest element is exclusively drawn from title tags. If this includes the site name, great – otherwise, it is confusing.
- All results are provided with supplementary pages.
The fundamental problem, to me, is that the search results are too complex – I’m barraged with information about this site in a manner that overwhelms and confuses me. I have no option to remove supplemental results and simplify my view, and the beginning of each result is unclear due to the scale of the other elements.
I like the way Dumbfind’s main page looks. I like their idea of tagged searching. However, I find their search results confusing and cluttered with advertising. It’s unlikely that they would win me over against any other service, unless they can provide more customization tools or simplify their default results.