Rambler is often criticized for their lack of development. Google has set the pace and Yandex has more than caught up, released a wide range of applications and services. So it’s good to see some developments at Rambler, which currently holds no.2 position by Russian IP. Change has come in the form of a new modern interface design for the search engine, which can now be viewed in beta form.
The interface is a very clean design, a good step away from their cluttered and rather dated portal look. It emphasizing their services, especially rich-media offerings such as video search and images. They are also making the services they have developed more prominent, such as their job vacancy search.
The layout is good and definitely gives them a better direction. However it does feel a little empty of substance, highlighting how few meaningful services Rambler have developed. For example, their Maps section takes the user to search results for maps (unless very specific), rather than the visual service you would expect from Google or Yandex.
They also have a search section they have termed ‘Wikipedia’. This is a little confusing for me, as copyright issues aside the user is simply given results from the Russian and English versions of Wikipedia (results for ‘God‘ and ‘Putin‘). You are left wondering why you would use Rambler to search this platform rather than Wikipedia’s own internal search facilities.
Looking through the options I got the sense that many of these simply ‘pad out’ the new services orientated design rather than give the user original or valuable functionality.
However this is a step in the right direction and a positive sign for future developments coming out Rambler. As any observer in this industry knows, the days of simply offering search are long gone now. Search engines are expected to deliver added value for their users and use these developments to increase brand loyalty, audience numbers and advert distribution. If Rambler hopes to keep Google at bay for 2nd place, they will need to throw themselves head first into this strategy.