www.kartoo.com Strong: An interesting design makes it a quirky conversation piece. Weak: The weirdness of design makes it impossible to get used to.
KartOO is easily the most interesting alternative search engine for one reason: its design requires you to suspend all preconceived notions about what a search engine should be and allow the unique experience to simply remove you from your former frame of reference.
KartOO calls itself the “visual search engine,” but it also delivers in a variety of other ways that make you desperate to show people just how wacky it is. However, you will likely never use it on a daily basis.
After inputting a query to the search engine, KartOO lets the company’s logo, a genie, get to work on finding the most relevant results it can and displaying them as thumbnail images that are linked to keywords, all within a visual display unlike anything you’ve ever seen in a search engine. The search engine also displays a list of “topics” that have some relevance to the query and allow you to click on them if you want to expand your search.
Describing exactly how KartOO looks will take more room than we have here, but suffice to say it’s easily one of the most interesting, yet brutally unbearable search engines you’ll ever use. After searching with a simple query – “dog” – KartOO retrieved over 42 million pages and showed thumbnails of the relevant sites (AKC.org was most prominent) and the keywords that could be linked to each.
Although it returned highly relevant results, the KartOO interface was practically impossible to navigate and there was too much going on to really enjoy using the search engine. For more complex searches like “where to find a dog pound in my area,” the search engine once again performed admirably, but it was impossible to get over its incomprehensible design and find the best result. And although it’s absolutely possible to get used to the site and find good results, the vast majority of people will search once, examine how results are displayed and never come back. It’s that weird.