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Last Updated: Wednesday, 6 June 2007, 10:57 GMT 11:57 UK
Ask re-writes web search rules
Screengrab of Ask homepage, Ask
The page gives you a few choices of background image
Ask has revamped its search engine to help distinguish itself from rivals such as Google and Microsoft.

In the revamp it has added to the traditional list of links results from a wide range of sources including videos and blogs.

The new page also lets users fine tune search terms to help them home in on the results they really want.

The revamp follows a similar move by Google in late May in which it combined different search results.

Lost list

Ask's revamp involves both its main page and the layout of the results that any search produces.

The Ask homepage has been cleaned up and the long list of different search categories has disappeared.

Now any search takes people to a page divided into three columns. The left-hand column lets searchers refine what they are looking for to make their terms either more or less specific.

With this feature Ask hopes to reduce the number of times users have to "hunt and peck" so they get the results they wanted.

The search firm said research reveals that users typically have to try four times before they find what they set out to look for.

The central column contains a familiar list of results plus adverts and the tools that let people save pages or get a sneak preview of websites.

The right-hand column gives instant access to results from other categories such as images, blogs and video.

Search analyst John Battelle looking over the revamp said on his blog that it was "about time" that the list of "ten blue links" was abandoned.

He added: " This is Ask, a perennial 4th place player in an increasingly one player market, doing what only a 4th place player can do: Throwing caution to the wind."

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