Ask.com logoAsk.com has launched a major redesign of its search engine, bringing search results from different media types into one homepage.

It is similar to Google’s Universal Search, which was unveiled last month, though the layout and navigation tools differ from Google’s effort.

The new version, currently only available on the US version of the search engine, has been dubbed ‘Ask3D’, as the search results are displayed in three columns.

According to Doug Leeds, VP of product management at Ask.com:
“Google and other search engines, including Ask.com until now, have looked at search as a linear process, where one step follows another in a strict progression. What we actually know is that it’s not linear at all.”

“People will type a query, review results, click through, then come back to review results, refine a query…it’s an iterative process.”

The left hand column displays the search box, as well as presenting options for narrowing or expanding a search, and showing related searches.

The centre column displays the standard search results, while a binocular tool allows you to preview some sites, and gives information such as average loading time, number of pop-ups, and a snapshot of the page.

On the right hand side, Ask displays video and image results related to the search term, recent news on the subject, and related Wikipedia entries.

It’s certainly a big improvement on the previous version, though Ask.com has a long way to go before it can challenge Google – it currently has just a 5% share of the US and UK search markets.