It's interesting to see how the two big search engines solve problems for the same target end user. "We are not a portal" Google certainly looks like one when placed in a side by side comparison chart.
Author, writer, User Experience Director, Luke Wroblewski, made a recent blog entry comparing user interface solutions for both Google and Yahoo. In Google vs. Yahoo! Interface Design, Luke writes:
"At a high level, Yahoo! has better integrated business goals with their product designs. For example, their comparison shopping site features multiple entry points that better match consumer shopping behaviors (browse by brand, browse by category, featured products, etc.) than Froogle’s single search box. Yahoo! also has more robust answers to vertical information finding (Travel, Finance, Movies, etc.) than Google’s Web Search features. That doesn’t negate the value of Google’s simple solutions to these tasks. It’s just that a simple solution sometimes requires something in addition to (or other than) a search box."
At the bottom of the comparison shots are the two main search pages, side by side. Strikingly similiar, aren't they?
Amazon has jumped into the simplicity-is-hot wave, with their new barebones header navigation. It used to take me several minutes to figure out where Amazon stuck their gift certificate stuff, but now, it's the first text link under the tabs.
From an information architecture perspective, all three sites are a treasure trove of solutions for how to handle mammoth sites. For anyone thinking of breaking their Google-habit, seeing the two search engines neck and neck may help make that break easier.