Image Search

For this blog topic, I will compare two image search engines: Google Images and Picsearch. I will write about my experience and thoughts regarding both image search engines. I will be looking for useful images relating to the music recording industry so that I can incorporate them into my term project and put them on my wiki site.

Google Images vs PicSearch

icon_GoogleSearch.jpg VS picsearch.gif


The first thing you see when you use any site is the homepage, so it makes the most sense to start off by comparing each site's homepage first. Both, Google Images and PicSearch, have very clean-cut, mostly white, and uncrowded homepages. Both sites offer links to other important information a user might like to know. For example, PicSearch's homepage has links for business solutions, terms of use, about PicSearch, search help, and an image directory. Similarly, Google Images has links for business solutions, about Google, and advertising programs. Both sites provide the user with a few images on the homepage; PicSearch shows four images that make up the most searched images for the week. On the other hand, Google Images shows four images from their new LIFE Magazine photo archives (I'm sure a new feature that Google is trying to promote). The homepages for both sites offer links for advanced search options as well as user preferences. Based on the homepages alone, it is very hard to distinguish much difference between the two image search engines. For the simple fact that PicSearch has larger images, and the images that are shown are the most searched of the week (versus images promoting a company service like Google), I will give PicSearch the nod for its homepage.

Advanced Search Options

One thing that makes a great image search, or any search for that matter is the ability to narrow your search results with advanced search options. Both, PicSearch and Google Images offer some advanced search options when it comes to looking for images. For PicSearch, the advanced search options include: limiting the results types (images, animations, or both), limiting the resulting images colors (color, black and white, or both) selecting the orientation of the images (landscape, portrait, square, or all), and finally what size you want the resulting images/animations to be. As far as advanced search options for Google Images go, you have more choices for keywords to use (exact phrases, related words, omitted words), content types (news, face, photo, all), image size, file type, coloration (color, black and white, grayscale), domain, as well as some safe search options to avoid the search returning harmful content. After checking out all the advanced search options on both sites and testing them out with a few simple searches, I declare the winner of this category Google Images. Google Images clearly has more options to narrow the results down so users can find just what they are looking for. Of the available advanced search options, Google Image's also seemed to be more relevant and useful. For example, why would a user be that concerned with finding an image with the right orientation. Most the time, users are looking for images to put onto other websites or office documents. These other programs, where the images ultimately end up, offer a bunch of options for flipping or resizing the image that make this option on PicSearch unnecessary. I would advise them taking this advanced search option out and replacing it with another one, like image type or file type, similar to Google Images.

Search Results

Now, comes the most important part; the search results. The reason you go to any image search site is because you want to get resulting images for your search query, and hopefully some of the images are what you are looking for. Things that matter as far as image results go include: how relevant the resulting images are, how many search results you receive (assuming they are relevant), and how the results page is formatted in addition to some other things. The first search I decided to try out involved finding some images of popular music artists that I could add to my project wiki site. I decided to search for images of Kanye West and Kid Rock. Here are the results pages using Google Images for Kanye West, and Kid Rock. Here are the results pages using PicSearch for Kanye West, and Kid Rock.

The results page for Google Images has several features of which to make note. As far as I can tell, the search results page is free of banner ads and each image result gives you a very brief description then lists the size and source underneath the image. Nearly all of the search results were relevant on Google Images, as I went up to results page number 20, and still found 95% of the images to be related to my search topic.

kid%20rock.jpg kanye-west2.jpg

The results page for PicSearch had several differences compared to that of Google Images, including layout features, and access to the images. First off, PicSearch has a big banner ad for Youtube on the side of the results page. This isn't a big deal , but keeping bombardment by advertisements to a minimum is more preferable. Additionally, PicSearch listed all of its image results in small panels that covered most the screen. The only image details in which they allude to on the results page are the images size. This differs from Google Images' results page quite a bit as the later gives you a bit more information. I also checked PicSearch for the relevance of its search results and found it to be generally pretty good. I went up to the 20th results page, and only found a few images that weren't relevant (Google Images returned more relevant results overall). Something else I noticed on PicSearch is that when you click through to access the image, you can't get a web page that just has the image isolated, away from the web page. This makes it difficult to copy the image source if you want to post it on your wiki site, for example.

Overall, the winner for best search results is clear; Google Images. The results page for Google Images search was better organized, had more relevant results, and was easier to use. Based on my experiences, Google Images appears to be the better image search engine compared to PicSearch based on my analysis of each site's homepage, advanced search options, and search results. I would recommend that people looking for a comprehensive, accurate, and easy to use image search engine, take advantage of Google Images search.

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