Looking to upstage their former employer, former Google employees Anna Patterson and Tom Costello have launched Cuil.com, see Ex-Googlers launch rival search engine on cnn.com. The husband and wife team claim Cuil.com’s search index spans 120 billion web pages or 3x what Google is currently capable of. On this post, I will examine Cuil’s homepage and search engine results page and how they compare to Google in regards to layout and design.
Cuil’s Home page
Google’s design influence is apparent after examining Cuil’s homepage. The minimalist look that drove millions away from search engine layouts of the past (Altavista, Yahoo, MSN) to Google appears to be the starting point of this site’s design. However, it then becomes obvious that Cuil attempts to distance itself from Google by making the background black, adding top margin to the logo, and right aligning the logo with the text field. While doing this, in my opinion, impacting the site’s usability in a negative way. In fact, in my opinion, it resembles a warez search page, a similiarity I’m sure they were not looking for.
Cuil’s Search Engine Results Page
Cuil attempts to further distance itself from Google in its search engine results page. While I applaud their efforts in attempting to revolutionize the display of search engine results pages by using a three column (or 2 column if you choose) layout as opposed to Google’s one column list, the design falls short. As any designer will tell you, attempting to neatly contain dynamic data in a 3 column grid layout is a difficult task. One that does not lend itself to the unknown of search results. That combined with eye tracking tests that suggest that users read from left to right in an F shape suggests a messy experience for the user.
Cuil's search engine results page
As opposed to Google’s proven one column layout for organic results.
So is Cuil.com the next Google? We’ll wait and see. One thing that’s certain, is that Cuil will need to be more like Google in terms of design and user experience if they wish to surpass them.