The value of a search engine often depends on who is using it and why. As vague as that might seem, it's important for developers to consider their audience when designing search interfaces. Search company Quintura has carved out a niche with a new search tool called Quintura for Kids. In a nutshell, it's an Internet search engine designed to be both friendly and functional for kids.
Typing in a search query brings up a list of results on the bottom of the page and a cloud of similar search terms up top. Mousing over any of these terms will drill down further, filling both the top and bottom halves of the screen with updated search results. For example, typing in monkey will bring up related words such as spider, howler, ball, and so forth. Mousing over one of those words will give you a few more suggestions in the nebula, with narrowed results on the lower half of the screen.
Quintura differs from Google Search in that it's not all about page rank. Quintura's parent search site--no pun intended--drives this cloud-result search technology called See & Find, and it's a great way to brainstorm for search terms. If you want to get even more precise, there's a red X by each term in the cloud; instead of typing out complicated exclusion rules you can simply click the small X marks to get rid of terms you want to avoid. At the same time, clicking on these Xs adds the correct exclusion rules to your search query, teaching users advanced search techniques without complicated instructions.
In essence, the children's version of Quintura isn't much different from the regular version. What sets it apart is the seasonal background--which, incidentally, clutters the interface--and five scattered preset searches for science, games, TV, music, and animals. Clicking any of those five icons will launch a simple search query.
As far as using Quintura for Kids over Google or Windows Live Search for the speediest results, I can't recommend it. However, with some practice you can efficiently find what you're looking for using Quintura's cloud-result search technology. Children might enjoy the presets that Quintura has gathered for their kids' section, but I'd feel safer allowing children access to the entire Internet with Google's SafeSearch technology. Using Quintura for Kids, searching for popular junk e-mail hooks such as Viagra and XXX results in censored searching. Instead of sticking in an artificial dead end, I'd rather see an intelligent search engine redirect kids to a page about malware, spam, and other Web security issues.