From the folks at Next Yahoo (a.k.a. Yahoo Labs) comes a new tool called Mindset.
Basically, it adds a slider to your search that has “research” on one end and “shopping” on the other.
I decided to play around with it a bit by using a few queries other search engines have trouble with…but they don’t have trouble with them due to “bad results” per se…but rather that they don’t know what the intent of the user is.
First, I tried “apple.”
Apple can mean either the fruit or the macintosh company.
Mindset’s “middle-of-the-road” results showed the mac company first, followed by the store, quicktime, etc…all focused around the commercial computer company. The “shopping” results showed the apple store first, followed by the amazon ipod page, .mac, and the apple homepage. Finally, “researching” results showed apple fruit results on wikipedia, an apple computer resource group site, a Sir Isaac Newton site, an Apple computer history site, and a mac rumors site.
The next test was for the term “jaguar.” Researching results showed the cat’s page on wikipedia first. The “shopping” results showed Jaguar car parts store. Middle-of-the-road results showed the car manufacturer site first.
In my opinion, based solely on these 2 tests, the results were just as I intended. The results that were intended to be for research were would I have gone had I been researching. Similarly, I would have done the same for the shopping sites. The was 1 result I was unsure of not seeing the car manufacturer as the 1st result for “jaguar” under shopping…but then I thought “if I was in shopping mode, I would want a dealer or parts store and not the manufacturer…If I wanted to research to purchase a car rather than just plain old research (as in the case of the big cat), I would be in the middle of the road.” So, overall, the results actually delivered as promised on these 2 terms. All in all, a pretty good feture that delivered as promised (though a larger set of words would be needed for a better test..especially with multi-word combinations/phrases). This definitely performed a lot better than most “beta” services.
The slider with the changing results is also reminiscent of their smart sort functionality where, within their shopping site, you move sliders based on features you want in a product and the results sort dynamically, providing you with explanations of why it appeared in its slot relative to alternate products within the list.