Thursday, May 4th, 2006

Wall Street Journal adds Selection-based Ajax Search

Category: Showcase, Usability

The Wall Street Journal Site has implemented a new feature that could definitely start popping up more and more all around the web – a new seach function for any word on the page.

You can now do a quick Online Journal search on any word or phrase on the site without leaving the page. Here’s how: Highlight (or define) the word or phrase, and right-click it with your mouse. You’ll see search results instantly in a blue box next to where you clicked. You can also turn this off by clicking on the link that says “turn this feature off temporarily.” If you want to restore it, open a new browser window and it will become available again.

The feature isn’t perfect – there’s still some browsers it doesn’t work on – but it is an impressive, non-obtrusive search method that keeps the data out of the way until you need it. The results appear in a “pop-up” window in the browser, do doubt populated with a simple Ajax call to their backend search. Each item on the list is linked to its article and has the date is was posted beside it. For those that find it interesting but slightly annoying when all you really need is the regular context menu, there’s a “Turn this feature OFF temporarily” option as well.

Posted by Chris Cornutt at 12:38 pm

3 rating from 29 votes


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Looks really good, and useful. Those two things are almost never come together

Comment by Armin — May 4, 2006

[…] WSJ adds selection based AJAX search […]

Pingback by G.D. Sanders » Blog Archive » WSJ adds AJAX-based search functionality — May 5, 2006

It doesn’t even hide the standard contextmenu in my IE6.0!!! How easy is it to do that! Then why don’t they… Unless it is by design, then their design sucks. But for now I’ll assume their code sucks.

Comment by Lon — May 5, 2006

Neat search method! But I doubt that people will ‘discover’ it because it’s not standard behaviour (yet) to select and right-click words on a web page.

Comment by Bart Claeys — May 5, 2006

I think its a pretty lame usage of ajax, who is *EVER* going to use that feature of the site? probably only us, then it will be forgotten and will just add to the bloat factor of the site.

If they were that clever how about improving the navigation of the site, what is it with those dhtml menus?

Comment by Dave Ashe — May 5, 2006

i have done something similar for my own project (similar as in right click does something – not a search feature), sadly something like this is impossible to work with opera

the context menu in ie showing is just a joke

Comment by jme giffo — May 5, 2006

That’s a feature that was almost cool. Like others said it isn’t very intuitive to find and once it comes up I didn’t see a way to close it in FireFox 1.5. Also most of the time the context menu pops up next to the search results but if the right click is too far to the left it goes over the search results. It’s also kind of strange that you can right click search on the search results themselves. The whole idea is good but it lacks polish.

Comment by Sam Corder — May 5, 2006

Yeah this was kind of neat when i first saw it, but it didnt seem quite ready for prime-time. For one, i couldn’t right-click the result links to ‘open in new window/tab’ — the results dissapear. But then i noticed that even though the results had dissapeared, there was still an option to “open new window” in the context menu. Wierd.

Also, select+rightClick is probably the right way to handle a phrase search, or multiple keywords, but even better for a single search term would be a simple doubleClick event, which leaves the word highlighted. No need for a right-click then.

It’s an interesting feature, but somehow i doubt it will be used very often.

Comment by Marty — May 5, 2006

I wonder why they decided to do right click rather than double click? At least doubleclick wouldn’t conflict with the context menu and we don’t have a standard for double clicking text on the web. Firefox (by default I think) doesn’t allow the hiding of the context menu, so that’s annoying.

Comment by Karl G — May 5, 2006

AJAX and the Zeigarnik Effect

My colleague Bob Moll over in the UXD blog writes about the Zeigarnick Effect and it’s implication for designing GUI’s. What is the Zeigarnick Effect? Bluma Zeigarnick was a Russian psychologist who in the 1920’s discovered that we remember unfinished

Trackback by Agile Ajax — May 30, 2006

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