Review – DuckDuckGo

Web page: http://duckduckgo.com/

Accessed on Sunday, 29th July 2012 @ about 7:50am GMT+1

DuckDuckGo screenshot

General overview
This is the homepage of a very smart search engine. You put your keywords in and search; the web site will perform equivalent searches on different search engines, like Google or Yahoo and combine results together.

The page is very simple and improves on the original Google concept of less is more. Results, instead, can be very sophisticated, including definition, recognition of official sites, content from Wikipedia and so on.

Such search simplicity helps speed and clearness.

Finding the web page
The address itself is as easy as they come. You can add www if you so desire or change .com for other suffixes like .co.uk and you will be automatically redirected to the main address.

If you know the site but don’t want to guess the address, it is very easy to find it on other search engines. If you use the keywords “search engine” to perform a search on Google, imagining you’ve never heard of DuckDuckGo, you will discover it among the very top results (after Dogpile, a similar engine result aggregator).

Loading speed
As expected, the page loads pretty fast.

Use of technology
Technology use is appropriately very limited. Mainly, there is only a drop down menu for specialised searches; selecting an option enters a special keyword in the search field to instruct on the specific type of search (for example, “!gi” is added to search on Google Images). This also allows learning the keyword.

Abbreviations
There were no abbreviations, which was expected, being the page so simple.

Logic structure
Couldn’t be better.

Fitness for purpose
The web page does what is says on the tin and is mostly fit for its purpose.
Some issues with the layout make it less accessible than such a simple page could be (more on that later).

Search function
The search feature is the whole point of the web site and is powerful and easy to use.

Site map
None present and none required.

Graphic look
The page looks nice, playful and modern. The white background, although is very common and pleasant, may cause excessive background brightness for some users. The site look is built around a three-colour scheme (green and red on white background) plus grey/black for text.

No overlaps have been found on the page. This means all content is clearly displayed as intended and there is no content hidden by other page elements.

The search button does not have any text equivalent representation, making it difficult to use for those who cannot see it properly. Same issue for the search options and the links at the bottom of the page can be overlooked.

Drop down lists
There was a drop down list that may cause problems to screen reader software.

Accessibility statement
There was no explicit accessibility statement; this means some accessibility programs may not offer users this page to browse. Although it is not always the case, this may also mean accessibility is not given much priority on page development.
Whether the lack of such statement is an actual flaw is arguable; however, it never hurts to add one.

Validation
There is no explicit validation button on the page. This means it is harder to verify the page is compliant with coding standards. A page that is not compliant may show correctly on the devices and browsers it has been tested on, but may present nasty surprises elsewhere.

Using W3C validator, the page showed as HTML 4.0 Strict . The validation returned errors and warnings, showing lack of compliance.

This is not uncommon, even in simpler pages like this one. No major errors have been detected, but full compliance would not hurt, particularly knowing how easy it would be to fix any issues.

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