In case you haven’t already heard, Live.com now has a background image with hotspot tiles you can hover over.
It’s all part of a new Live.com, with the background image and hotspots the first part, of other steps to go.
"We think the new design is a great start, but there’s more to come, with lots of interesting directions that we’ll be exploring in our next releases of the home page." – Live Search blog.
Just a quick note : The background image and hotspots DOESN’T take a long time to load or interfere with the main point of the page; the search box. The search box is the very first thing that the page will load, with the other stuff later. In fact, if you have high-speed internet like me, you probably wouldn’t even notice any slow-down.
"To ensure that users can start a search immediately, our base page loads first with the images and hotspots loading quickly afterward." – Live Search blog
My opinions on this? I think it’s pretty neat. A nice touch to the search experience. However, I wish there was some option to disable the background images with hotspots. Some people just like a clean search page, and ONLY a clean search page. These people shouldn’t be denied the option at least. I’m not one of these people, but I’m guess there probably a good many that do.
Also, I hope that someday, for those of us with Live ID’s, we could be able to upload our own background image and make hotspots on it. You know, taking customization to the next level. Again, I’m not this type of person. Seems more on the extraneous side to me. But the more options the better. Well, in most cases.
While I’m happy to see the Live Search team introduce a new feature, I really hope they’re putting their resources into making the actual search relevancy better. I’m honest when I say I use Live Search every day. Really. I find most of the results relevant to the first link. That is, for just your basic search query. I don’t usually go into super specified searches much, but I think those were handled well enough to.
But there could be some improvement. For instance, when I search for ‘on10’ (the name of a Microsoft-made community blog), I found the actual site (http://onten.net ) several pages away. The results before that had a mention of the site, but no actual links I found. Weird, huh? But I think they recently fixed it, after I left a comment on the blog post regarding the new feature, because I notice it actually works right now. Another commenter also vouched for my comment, saying he found the same thing when he had done searches for on10. Good to know they check the comments, though they may not reply most of the times.
Another case in point is a search for ‘Liveside’ (a Windows Live community fan site). The first two results are exactly the same. With just a minor difference in the description. But both results also have a strange URL : http://www.ditii.com.www.liveside.net/
The LiveSide site is really simply : http://liveside.net/ . I have no idea where the got all the other junk in the beginning. It’s something that’s worth fixing. It would also be really neat if they could display the latest blog entries right under the main link to a blog’s homepage. Just a nice touch to the search results.
Another mishap that hasn’t been fixed is over Zune vs. Zoon. I accidentally searched for Zoon, and here were some of the related searches :
Should Microsoft post those type of related searches? It might confuse somebody who’s searching for a different type of zoon, or looking for the Zune player, but couldn’t spell it right.
Anyway, I really like the background image with hotspots, and hope more options, and great features will come over for Live Search.