You’ll find the new service at http://www.wdyl.com/. If you’ve ever used a search engine, you’ll have no problem with the interface. Just put your answer to the question “What do you love?” in the search box and click on the blue button with the white heart. Barry Schwartz at Search Engine Land popped in “email” and was surprised that “Gmail is the second to last option on the right column.” He figured it would return Gmail as a top listing.
Intrigued, I tried putting in “video,” figuring that YouTube would come back near the top. I did better than Schwartz, but not quite as well as I expected. I got a three-column return, just like Schwartz, with Trend, Sketchup, and Product Search as the top three results. Product Search didn’t even find anything, which apparently made it feel a bit inadequate; it gave the message “What if we told you we didn’t find anything? Still friends? Try simpler terms.” YouTube showed up as the third result in the right-hand column, with the statement “Watch videos of video on YouTube.”
Let me offer a quick word about what you see after you click for results. As I mentioned, there’s a three-column layout, with each Google service in its own little box. The box offers an image of the service, links to it at both the top and the bottom of the box, and a headline. Sometimes you even get a little more than that.
For example, for Sketchup, in addition to the “Explore video in 3D with SketchUp” headline, the image (in this case, of little green men in front of a spaceship) is clickable, as if it’s a video all by itself. By the way, if you search for the same thing more than once, the order changes. For Picasa and some of the other services, at the bottom right within the box, I saw a pair of clickable arrows in buttons. Clicking on the arrows changed the image.
All the way over on the left, you’ll see a small set of gray boxes with the outline of a blue rectangle around six of them. This is how WDYL lets you know where you are in your list of results. Scroll up or down, and the rectangle moves with it. Under this part of the interface, you may see the word “Share.” I did, followed by an You may also see an “m” icon in red. This is the icon for Gmail, and clicking it opened a new tab which loaded Gmail and gave me a full-browser Gmail message with the subject line “Hey this is awesomely awesome.”
The body of the message, after I’d typed in a search for “food” (hey, it was mid-afternoon, time for a snack), read “So you type in something you love like ‘food’ and it automatically gives you a map of nearby food, lists of books about food, blogs about food, 3D models of food, recent food videos, discussions about food…everything. It’s like a ‘wonderful things dashboard’ http://goo.gl/p105P.” The link given, which is NOT live in the email, just takes you to the home page of WDYL, but you can be that Google tracks it in some way.
Below the Gmail icon I also saw an icon for Google Buzz; clicking that took me to a page where I had the option to try Google Buzz by posting about WDYL, or clicking the “no thanks” link.
I love that the images that come up when you do a search on WDYL are often very relevant. When I searched for “crochet,” Picasa showed an adorable amigurumi, and all of the thumbnails in the Image Search box were clearly of crocheted items. The YouTube box encouraged me to “Watch Videos of Crochet” with a clickable video that was clearly on topic. All of the books that came up under Google’s Book service included “crochet” in the title. The latest news about crochet included a small but understandable mistake: it included a headline for a Marine Corps officer being commissioned. The officer’s name was Grant Crochet.
I hate to sound like I’m gushing here, but I think that this new service is ridiculously cool – and frankly, it’s about time that Google created something like this. It gives users the opportunity to take whatever they’re passionate about and see how Google’s other services and features let them pursue it in a dozen different ways. I found plenty of Google services I didn’t even know about, and I’m sure my experience was not unique.
I wonder if Google is hoping that visitors will give WDYL a try and then not check out the competing sites in each category. For instance, after a WDYL search on their favorite topic, would they start a blog about their passion with Blogger rather than WordPress? Might they look for books about it through Google Books rather than Amazon? We’ll have to wait and see. Right now, it’s just a neat-looking service with the kinds of minor bugs you might expect from a beta release. I think it’s also an educational PR move – a clever way to let users know about the full range of Google’s offerings. What users do with that knowledge is up to them.