I’ve been privileged this week to be able to test a new search engine to be launched for South Africa soon. (Ok, actually I bitched about how it was indexing my blog like crazy and then Alistair Carruthers from Jonga contacted me about a tweak they made to correct the issue and offered me the chance to check out the service.)

Unfortunately, I can’t divulge the url of the test servers, so don’t ask.

Here’s a screensnip:
Jonga.co.za South Africa's Search Engine

What I liked:
* AJAX/DHTML (or something similar) allows you to preview search results by opening them inside the search window. Way cool.
* Search history (without needing a login)
* Dictionary results in a side pane
* The option of going direct to the hit page or to the main url

What I didn’t like:
* The placement of search history bar means you can’t have it open and conduct a new search.
* Navigating to result pages was tricky if you’re a “middle-clicker” like me – the “open in new window” link was just too small to navigate quickly (and lazily). This may just be a font config thing on my side.
* The actual search result gets highlighted, but the highlighted portion is not a link, forcing use of the “open in new window” link as mentioned before.
* Microsoft’s IIS or equivalent is serving up the pages.

So I took a quick look at the competitor search engines in the South African space:
aardvark: slow like an aardvark, and yellow, and just a google wrapper.
ananzi: more yellow (wtf?), icky – I feel dirty just browsing to it.
funnel: better, cleaner, but few pages and far too google-ish, no creativity.

From what I’ve seen, I think Jonga can own the search space in South Africa.