Cuil, Salmon and French Cooking – Self-awareness and usability

July 29, 2008

Cuil search

Try searching Cuil for itself.

Cuil isn’t self-aware!

And some other strange results… neither by popularity nor relevance.

Mirror mirror…I tried 10 pages of the results… Cuil won’t look at itself. Try searching Google for Cuil – the new search engine is top of the list!

The Explore by Category lists are a good idea. (I’ve expanded this one to show all it showed me.)

But what have French Breads or French Cuisine got to do with “cuil”? “Cuil.” is the abbreviation for “cuillère”, French for spoon. French cooking for this search is fascinatingly irrelevant!

Sadly, Cuil didn’t turn up the Irish Mythology (see yesterday’s entry) as a Category.

cuil salmon search

Looking for: cuil salmon– top result about Luxembourg-based life assurance group (abbrev CUIL) in the Irish Times from 2005… salmon?;

cuill salmon – only 5 of “742 results” are even shown, none relevant, and repeating the search returned only the worst – a spam word page, now out of “495 results”;

cuil salmon of knowledge– nothing found! Yet the Cuil has the story of its own name. And Google will return useful results on all of these.

usability search on Cuil

The final indigity is a usability issue.

Searching on usability actually returns some really good results, and some helpful Categories with useful suggestions for related searches.

But if you’ve done your search in a small window in IE6 and you expand it, the black footer sticks in the window rather than moving itself to the bottom of the screen where it belongs. My image doesn’t exaggerate the problem – the black bar covers up search result text. (Poor CSS – Cascading Style Sheet – testing for different browsers.)

Poor results and usability issues. Google doesn’t have anything to worry about today.

But “what if” we imagine that Browse by Category improves? I doubt it’ll kill Google – Google surely has enough resources to implement its own browse. Perhaps this plus respect for privacy plus something we haven’t seen will at least give Google some competition?

One Response to “Cuil, Salmon and French Cooking – Self-awareness and usability”

  1. Peter Manson Says:

    Cuil did sort out the “self awareness issue” and most of the functionality witin a few days of your article, but it still did show a lack of serious testing before launch!

    Cuil is not likely to kill or even slightly bruise Google, because it doesn’t really matter how good or functional it is – Google has the BRAND recognition, and any competitor would need hugely deep pockets (we’re probably talking a significant fraction of a Billion) to develop anything like the same brand awareness.

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