Ms. Dewey: Taking cute too far

Summary:If you haven't seen Ms. Dewey, you will probably be hearing about her.

Ms. DeweyIf you haven't seen Ms. Dewey, you will probably be hearing about her. She's trying to kill the memory of Jeeves, who you formerly asked. She's also a disaster as far as UI goes. 

Built in Flash, Ms. Dewey is an antropomorphized search page that features an actressMs. Dewey is only slightly more pleasant than Scuzz the Rat in Microsoft Bob who apparently spent about 20 minutes in front of a green screen making chit-chat that loops as you contemplate your search and the results. She gets impatient, calls "Type something here," taps the screen and asks if anyone is out there, pouts (she's hot, so she can get away with it like Jeeves never could, a conceit that is sexist on innumerable levels), but mostly proves, as Google Blogoscoped put it, that she—the search interface—is "inhumanly dumb."

She takes a long time to load and forces you to endure a joke before searching.

Ms. Dewey also takes her sweet time getting results and displays them in a window smaller than the actress, which is fundamentally missing the point of search. The delay seems to be due to the system examining the result to contextualize the performance, as there are reportedly some Easter Egg responses to the most obvious juvenile searches, like "boobs." It's the worst kind of abuse of user interface design and user time.

Who wants a search engine that pouts? Who wants a search engine that, as you browse the results repeats imprecations for attention? 

Didn't the developer realize that the Mute button included on the home page was a clear sign they'd made something annoying? 

Ms. Dewey is the wrong way to go about building a better search engine. From a business standpoint, who seriously thinks that the brand can scale beyond idle curiousity—can they chain this woman to her green screen for all eternity? I don't think so, and I hate to imagine the results.

Ms. Dewey is only slightly more pleasant than Scuzz the Rat in Microsoft Bob (who you cannot see here, thanks to Ms. Dewey, who doesn't do image search and took 14 seconds to display some Bob-related results, because she had a schtick to do).

God, I hate bad UI. 

Topics: Microsoft


Mitch Ratcliffe is a veteran journalist, media executive and entrepreneur. He was editor of the ground-breaking Digital Media newsletter in the 1990s and a frequent contributor to ZDNet over the years. He led development of the first Web audio/video news network at ON24, sat on the board of Electric Classifieds Inc. and, and wor... Full Bio

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