Awesome. I guess. Although Ask.com had this same feature in May of 2006. Ask.com even had a commercial about this
game-changer yet “Binoculars” didn’t really do much for the service.
I never found Binoculars useful. You could click an icon to see what a site looked like or you could click a link and be transported to the site. In a lot of cases the site loaded up just as fast as the preview. The feature doubled your clicks and all you got was a tiny picture of the site’s design.
As a designer I liked how Binoculars brought visual design into search strategy but as a designer I also respect things like Fitts’ Law. It goes something like this…
Fitts' Law: Time required to move to a target is a function of the target size and distance to the target.
Translated to web design: Make users scroll/click less if you really want them to do something. This is one reason why Binoculars failed. They added a step to the process.
Google did a better job with their implementation. Try Instant Preview from Google’s home page. After you make a search, each search result has a tiny preview icon. Clicking your first preview icon activates Instant Preview for all result items for the entirety of that session. Once Instant Preview is active, hovering over each result will trigger the preview without any extra clicks. Well played Google. You fulfilled Fitts’ law.
Still, search engines are for locating content and the visual preview does little to help in that task. I’m still not convinced Instant Preview contributes to the search experience in any meaningful way. Google’s implementation is fairly unobtrusive and soon it may be active by default on all searches. Your site’s thumbnail preview will probably become part of your search strategy. If you own a site about robots and search is your primary source of traffic, make sure you have a giant picture of a robot above the fold. It also might help to have
font-size:50px; ROBOT INFO CENTER text at the top of every page. Who knows. That wouldn’t be the craziest thing I’ve had to do for Search Engine Optimization.