Pipl is a search engine designed to locate people across the web. Type in a name and location and Pipl will source all the available online information in relation to this name.
The Pipl search engine will aggregate the information and cross check it against various parameters, before delivering an online profile containing all of the available information collected on one individual. Unlike a typical search-engine, Pipl is designed to retrieve information from the deep web. The robots are programmed to interact with all searchable databases, extracting facts, contact details and other relevant information from personal profiles, member directories, scientific publications, court records and numerous other deep-web sources.
Pipl is not just about finding more results. It uses advanced language-analysis and ranking algorithms to deliver quality results, focusing on the most relevant pieces of information. Results are presented in a single, easy-to-read results page.
I have summarized below parts of the process which were undertaken in designing this website.
The Home Page
The home page is unconventional because standard search engines usually only have one search field. Owing to the unique nature of this search engine, users are asked to enter a name and an optional location. One problem was that new users quickly scanning the site would be misled into thinking they were being asked for their own usernames and passwords, assuming they were expected to register for a service – which they were not.
The first attempt to resolve this issue, was to add a frame to visually combine the 2 fields. Next I removed the ‘Search’ copy from the button and replaced it with a search icon, so as to make it very clear to users, they were indeed about to perform a search.
Following several iterations, the framing was removed to create a more streamlined look and we add a series of smart visual clues to guide users through the process. The name field is highlighted with a blue ‘person’ icon, and as soon as the user places their cursor over the area, the frame turns blue. When the user begins entering a name, the location icon changes color to blue, together with the search button. This indicated to the user that they can fill in the location information if they’d like to, or alternatively simply press the search button.
Search Results Page
Next, because Pipl is a search engine, results returned links to external pages. In the previous design many users were seeing the list of results and assuming that’s all they were. The challenge was to create an appearance that presented the results as links and encouraged users to click on them to access the (external) results pages.
Following a series of A/B testing, Pipl realized that using the same shade of blue used by Google on their links yielded a 20% increase in click through rate.
A decision was made to move to the ‘Google blue’. Examples of this can be seen below. A standardized search result would be in the new blue color and links were underlined. The full URL would then be displayed in green below. We removed the unnecessary icons and created a uniformed look across all results. Finally, in order to remove the clutter, we summarized the main categories above the results.
The result was that we created a more streamlined results page which felt less cluttered and was more intuitive for the user and felt like search results.
The previous color used for links had been drawn from the logo. A decision was taken to refresh the corporate logo for the new site and create a more contemporary look and feel. We have now used a color which will blend well across the overall site.
Searching the deep-web takes time, and search results could take several seconds. The loading bar in the previous design felt somewhat dated.
I designed a load bar which added some humor whilst the search was in progress. Users are more likely to be patient and respond favorably if they have a smile on their face while waiting. I also had the URLs from the source cycle through below throughout the loading process. This gave an indication that the process was working quickly and results were being found.
In order to provide high quality and relevant search results we need to understand the context of searches. Users most often were looking for their own online records or were searching for a lost relative. Pipl was able to offer a great service which enabled users to gain real satisfaction and accurate search results.
Below, you will find additional before and after screens from the project.