To Portal or not To Portal? Wrong question.

    March 12, 2005

It seems that the portalization of Google comes up now and then. I just ran across …

this quote on Technosailor:

It seems Google is trying to experiment with elements of portal sites like My Yahoo! but still trying to remain in the business of purely search and rejecting the elements of portalhood that it doesn’t like. I’m not so sure you can be on both sides of the fence.

Yeah, I’d agree with that. You can’t be on the fence and Google is headed to portaldom. But I think people are focusing on the wrong question, really. The question they should be asking is this:

What will the next generation portal look like?

If their current products are any indication, most things fit into a “one box” view of the world. By that I mean that each of their major properties have an obvious text input box and one or two buttons. The interaction is in one of two modes:

  1. Type into the box and hit the button. Look at results.
  2. Use other navigation to browse. Repeat.

It seems that Froogle, Logal/Maps, and Search (Web, Image, Transcript Video) are clearly in mode #1. While Mail and Groups are unevenly split between #1 and #2. That’s not terribly surprising, since those two are more about communication and interaction.

In other words, you may or may not begin by “searching” but will likely end up navigating content that may have ads nearby. But I suspect that 95% or more of their current “sessions” begin with a search of some sort. After all, Google is a advertising search company.

I’m not convinced that the “one box” view of the world is going to be the primary mode of interaction over the next few years. Are you?

Jeremy Zawodny is the author of the popular Jeremy Zawodny’s blog. Jeremy is part of the Yahoo search team and frequently posts in the Yahoo! Search blog as well.

Visit Jeremy’s blog: Jeremy Zawodny’s blog.