Tim Mayer over at Yahoo! Search highlighted the major changes that have taken place with the launch of the new Yahoo search engine. New feature Yahoo! Search Assist features heavily and Tim Mayer covers off the topic in great detail; read what Tim had to say --
Most of you have already seen the real-time query suggestions we launched on Yahoo.com in July. Yahoo! Search Assist kicks it up a notch, bringing those suggestions to the search results page, along with related concepts that give users a point-and-click query refinement capability that enables them to explore a subject area they may be unfamiliar with.
Search 'united nations,' for example, and the new Search Assist knows that the following concepts are related to your query: general assembly, 1945, league of nations, secretary general, etc. Want to refine your query to explore 'united nations' + 'general assembly'? Just click on the 'general assembly' suggestion.
You now get a new set of results and new concepts related to 'united nations general assembly.' Exploring further is now simply a matter of clicking on new concepts.
One thing you'll find when you use our new search experience is that Search Assist "automagically" drops down from the search box on the results page when it senses that you're having difficulty formulating a query. But it only shows up when you need it or ask for it.
It then offers real-time suggestions and concepts to explore, just like on Yahoo.com. We did this to avoid a common complaint about assistance technologies offered by other search engines -- the "persistent assistance" that puts suggestions on the page regardless of whether a user wants or needs them.
We've been testing Search Assist over the past few months and have seen significant improvements in user satisfaction from those tests. One metric we found was a 61% increase in successful task completion when users had Search Assist as part of their search experience.
In addition to Search Assist, you may have also noticed our new header and footer. While our users think it looks better (we do too), it's also focused on helping users get things done. We moved the search box to the left to align with the results so that we make it easier for you to scan the results and find what you're looking for.
We've also spent some time focused on how we could improve our algorithmic results to deliver a better multi-media search experience.
Its a very progressive move from Yahoo! and is released as a response to Google's encompassing Universal Search. Yahoo! Search Assist has some very unique features and, although it has some initial teething trouble, is a much needed addition and one that makes Yahoo.com a more rounded engine.