Get some Viewzi

UPDATED May 28, 2008: DFW CBS 11 featured Viewzi on the nightly news. Read the full story here:

If you asked me six months ago what I thought was wrong with search and how could it be improved, I probably would have given you a blank stare.

That was until I met Brandon and the gang at Viewzi. It only took one demo to convince me that they were on to something really special. So, I left my comfy corporate gig in December and joined the team.

What is Viewzi?


Viewzi is about changing the experience of search.

With Viewzi, instead of getting millions of results, you get views tailored to the content. These views may include screenshots, pictures, videos, words, features, and obscure sources to help uncover the content you’re looking for.

Think of Viewzi like that friend you have that no matter what question you have, they know the answer or know who to ask. It also helps to imagine if your friend is really, really good looking.

Viewzi has a very different search experience compared to most browsers. With Viewzi, after searching you make a stop what we call the View Mix:

The View Mix

The View Mix is the first half of the magic sauce. It determines (through math that makes my head spin) what you term could mean and presents you with a list of Views that are relevant to your search.

For example, searching for Canon 40D could mean:

  • pictures of or with a Canon 40D
  • video tutorials about the Canon 40D
  • Places to buy the Canon 40D
  • 40D manuals
  • 40D reviews

Pick a View in the View Mix launches your search. The cool thing about a View is that it has source(s) that are tailored to your search. Instead of searching the entire web for that one thing you are looking for, a view might search very specific data source that would be expert to what you are looking for.

Oh, and did I mention that they look really great? Check out these sample screenshots:

Four Sources View by Chris Mancini

Weather at a Glance View by Aaron Martin

Celebrity Photo Toss by Aaron Martin

Why Viewzi?

With traditional search, no matter what you search for, the results are always presented in nearly the same way. Google and other search engines have improved a bit by adding extra tabs in your results, such as images, videos, etc. But for the most part, you’re getting regular text results.

Pull up a search engine and search for iPhone. Ok, now search for Dilly Chicken Sandwich. You’re looking for two very different things, yet your results are generic. Both searches are based on relevancy (which is determined by a crazy complicated algorithm) and sorted accordingly, however you intent is wildly different between the two.

Second problem. We humans don’t search like we think. We may be thinking sailing instructor in the Florida Keys, but we’ll search for sailboats. Commenting on Stephen Tubek’s Box and Arrows article, Advancing Advanced Search, Christina Wodtke summed this behavior up most succinctly:

Context is critical in search. In web search, no matter how hard you try to get more data out of the user, or get them to refine results, you can’t. You wouldn’t be believe how many different interfaces and approaches have been tried to get “one more word” out of users. However, in other areas like travel and real estate, users will happily fill out multiple fields to get better results.

With Viewzi, we don’t have to guess 100% to find out what you are thinking. By surfacing diverse (yet relevant) views, you’ll tell us exactly what you mean.

Under the hood

We’ve came along way since December. There isn’t a single piece of the UI and backend that hasn’t been re-architected in one way or another. Aside from UI improvements, I’m most excited to announce that Viewzi is no longer 100% Flash. Thanks to the hard work of the Viewzi development team we can now deliver both Flash and HTML/JavaScript views via our wicked API. In fact, we launched with a general Text view and a TechCrunch view that completely HTML based.

HTML Text view by Travis Isaacs

Techcrunch View by Aaron Martin

Get some

What are you waiting for, get yourself an invite here. And be sure to mention that I sent you.

A huge, huge thanks to Brandon, Stephen, Chris, Steve D, Joshua, Manoj, Aaron, Jay, Thomas, and Dawn for making this launch happen. We couldn’t have pulled it off otherwise. You guys (and gal) are my heroes.


  1. Aaron said:

    We couldn’t have done it without some of your special sauce.

  2. Nathan Smith said:

    Turned out great! Looking forward to seeing how it evolves! ;)

  3. Jordan said:

    This project resembles PicLens. Check it out if you haven’t allready..

  4. Travis said:

    @Jordan, we’re huge fans of PicLens at Viewzi. However image search is only a small facet of the views we offer.