As a web or graphic designer, it’s probably fair to say that on a day-to-day basis, you work and learn on a very visual level. For many of us, a picture is so much more appealing than several pages of text explaining the same thing.
As you’re no doubt aware, Google image search offers an easy way to find images. Simply click on the “Images” link before or after you’ve put some terms into the search box, and Voila! — a page of thumbnails appears almost instantly. However, there are a few alternatives to the search engine giant that you may like to try out.
Viewzi offers options to view results in 15 different formats, including in the form of thumbnails of web pages found by Yahoo, Live Search, Ask and Google. You can flip between thumbnail views and text views laid out in a grid format. Viewzi also returns results from Flickr in a thumbnail cloud. One feature I particularly liked was the way you can view the News results from Google News in the form of a newspaper front page — it’s very cool. You can add Viewzi to your browser by clicking on a link at the bottom of the page.
Searchme.com is a “multimedia search engine”. It returns its results in a series of screenshots of web pages which looks similar to the iTunes Cover Flow look. This site may not be the fastest way to find images, but there is a sense of playfulness about it. I find it useful to get a snapshot of web sites in specific genres.
TinEye.com “does for images what Google does for text”. It’s a reverse image search engine, which means you can either upload your own image or point TinEye at a URL containing an image you’re interested in and it will bring back a list of sites where that image can be found — very clever stuff. So if you think that someone has pinched one of your images, this can be a very helpful tool for your detective work!
If you’re interested in book cover design, or simply love browsing for books, then a visit to Zoomii.com is a must. This is the nearest you’ll get to the experience of browsing in a real book store whilst sitting at your computer. Search for a book or topic and the results returned show good-sized thumbnails that you can click on to get more information on the book. If you want to buy a book, you can add it to your cart and checkout through the Amazon web site. You can also add books to a wishlist — this is something I’ve used to put together collections of book designs I like.
SnapTell is an image recognition-based mobile marketing company. The idea here is that you can take a picture of a book, a game cover, a DVD or a CD with your iPhone, and this search engine application automatically looks up your item and displays links to Amazon, Barnes and Noble, and Wikipedia, along with ratings and prices.
Have you used these visual search tools before? Was it a good experience? Which search engines are you using to make life easier?
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