Redesign web search (opportunity)

Refrain from spy and target model

Search engines haven't changed the way they generate and present information

What's the point of technology if it's widely deployed to serve its maker?

The first consumer products of the internet was, and still is, the search engine. The first one was created in 1990, called 'Archie.' In 1993, 'Wandex' and 'Aliweb' were also created.

Search engines then evolved rapidly, with the most well-known one being Yahoo in 1994, until Google came in to revolutionize the search engine landscape and became the dominant player globally.

The primary purpose of search engines is to assist users in finding information on the internet quickly and efficiently.

Search engines serve as tools that organize vast amounts of online content. Making it accessible to users when they enter search queries.

Over 25 years of the same product

The search engine has remained unchanged. The search results are scattered pieces of information, and the way users interact with these results is akin to searching for gold or oil beneath the ground.

When prospecting for gold or oil, geologic and seismic surveys are conducted. Potential areas are drilled, and through excavation, discoveries are made.

Search engines are the same but without prior planning for the comprehensive overview of a particular topic.

It follows the traditional way of searching and finding things on Earth. However, there is an opportunity to change the way we learn.

The new players that entered the market in recent years haven't brought new ideas.

Their unique selling proposition is to protect your privacy by preventing cookies from tracking you online, so you don't get targeted by ads. Who knows if this holds any truth.

Is protecting themselves from search engines what people really need? Aren't there other problems users aren't aware of, or perhaps a better way to use search engines?

The business model of search engines is to spy and target. It operates similarly to intelligence offices—spying and making decisions. The more they know about you, the better they can approach, sell, or influence you.

The problem with search engines

When you use them to truly learn about a subject, you receive scattered results of information that do not build up a full picture of a certain topic, thus failing to provide a researcher with a comprehensive understanding.

As an information seeker, you have to think of other questions to ask and type them in. The search engine retrieves information for each question individually. As you read, your curiosity will trigger another question, and you'll go through the same loop.

With that:

  • There is a possibility that you may miss a piece of the puzzle while searching, hindering your ability to gain a full picture and understanding of the topic you are learning about.

  • Alternatively, the results may not provide you with other related areas of information that you should learn about the searched topic.

  • Spending a lot of time searching instead of reading and learning is inefficient. This method impacts your formed judgment since you don't have a full understanding of the topic.

Finding one piece of information about a certain topic is not enough to make you an expert. There are other direct and indirect components that build the complete picture.

Instead of exhausting your brainpower, search engines can develop a smart engine by introducing an ed-tech product for anyone who wants to learn deeply about anything.

The current design of search engine results presents scattered information, reflecting a scattered mind.

In 2018, I encountered this hidden problem or opportunity during one of my personal design projects.

Here is the new product development I propose:

Any search engine, whether context-based or video-based, has the potential to transform into an organized and categorized educational platform designed for various purposes.

With the help of AI and machine learning, as I suggested back then, and now that AI has reached an advanced level, search engines must evolve into a new version.

What should search engines look like when you aim to learn about something in-depth, rather than seeking isolated pieces of information? This is crucial for forming comprehensive knowledge.

The model curates puzzles as categories, with each category representing a separate topic but related to the searched topic. The engine's role is to showcase these different categories based on the searched topic. For someone who wants to learn, this provides a comprehensive view of other areas they need to cover to gain a greater understanding and form better decisions or opinions.

Here is an example:

If I want to start coffee business:

I Type in where to get coffee beans, or learn about coffee business. The results should present main categories of this topic. providing me with a complete and comprehensive overview.

When I click on each category. all relevant information related to that particular category are listed in separate links.

In this way, as someone looking to learn about coffee, the search engine has enlightened me about other aspects I should explore, such as:

  • Category: Learn types of coffee beans

  • Category: Biggest producers countries of coffee -

  • Category: Biggest coffee companies -

  • Category: History and origin of coffee -

  • Category: Coffee machines -

  • Category: Learn the art of blending and roasting coffee -

  • Category: Countries of the biggest coffee consumer -

  • Category: Coffee market, economics and trends

These serve as the main puzzles or categories that collectively form a complete picture of a searched topic.

Regardless of my interest or intention, my curiosity will naturally expand to a higher level. I won't have to think about what I need to learn about coffee; the comprehensive structure of the search engine will guide me.

I click on each category and explore different sources that support it. This way, I gain rich knowledge about coffee, make connections, and surface insights more efficiently.

Result of categorized information

In the case of coffee, if someone wants to enter the coffee beans business, they know what to anticipate. Having a full understanding guides them to make better decisions when engaging in business, investments, research, or learning

In other words, search engines synthesize related information in a categorized and organized manner to provide a complete picture, much like putting a puzzle together.

This is an example of how to design a new product based on a search engine. We can apply this approach to STEM education, business, finance, engineering, or any field.

It will immensely help anyone who wants to build deep knowledge about anything.

It will save time and effort for educational and research purposes, providing efficiency in connecting the dots and surfacing better insights.

Shifting from search engines to other tools

Search engines are perceived as broken, not the best for finding or searching specific pieces of information.

There is a shift towards using other tools by different generations. For example; consumers tend to find answers to their questions in social media.

Here is data by hubspot:

Social media preference method of searching by diff Gen

When it comes to answering consumers' questions, search engines are currently at the top because AI chatbots like ChatGPT are still relatively new. In the near future, as they progress, AI chatbots are likely to take the top spot.

Effectiveness of these three tools

We should be grateful for search engines; at least I am. In the past, before the internet, one had to spend hours in a library searching through books to find the information needed.

Thanks to the internet and search engines that generate online content for information seekers. However, it's about time to elevate our approach to information seeking to a higher level.

With the advanced of technology of AI. This is possible.

Enhance the capabilities of the search engine to make it smarter and capable of educating and informing users. otherwise they will loose the race to AI tools.

Sometimes, you can create the most sophisticated mechanics, but if it's not designed with the best interface, it may not reach its full potential.

As I mentioned, this was a personal project and is part of my design portfolio. The original post is: original post

Thanks for reading

Please, share your thoughts or feedbacks.

Ahmed Bousuwa

Two things I can help you with:

1. Run a discovery process, finding opportunities and designing the blocks of solution. within any area: transformation, improvement, innovation, strategy, or product.

2. Coaching and advising you on a challenge you are working on.

Visit Neo Strateje and fill out a discovery form.R