On The Web, March 2005

What's The Difference? This should come as no surprise: A “new” search engine launched last month. The fact that it's from Microsoft is what makes it important.

What's The Difference?

This should come as no surprise: A “new” search engine launched last month. The fact that it's from Microsoft is what makes it important. The MSN Search model (accessible from www.msn.com) should look familiar. Picture Google with a different logo, and you've pretty much got the idea.

But for machining professionals looking to the Web to promote their businesses or do research into myriad technologies, there's little in MSN's search to get excited about. Sure, competition is fine. And Microsoft might turn up the heat on Google (and vice-versa). But MSN's model adds little to the search space from a manufacturing point of view. Except for slight differences in their SERPs (search engine return pages) from the same keyword search and the fact that MSN offers searches across its Encarta database, it looks like two screens that do the same things.

So it goes: While search developers follow the same paths toward the ultimate single-use search utility, access to professional or technologically focused information is presented in the same online wrappings as searches for fashion trends, romance novels or guacamole recipes. To suggest that models such as these serve manufacturers well is like insinuating that a high-functioning machining enterprise can operate effectively in a driveway.

Few should blame MSN for following Google's lead. After all, at press time Google's market share was valued at $55 billion dollars. That's more than General Motors and Ford combined. But if you're a manufacturing professional, you should hope that Thomas or GlobalSpec go after some of that money, too.

Job Shop Site Of The Month

Our job shop site of the month is our first second-time winner—Schmiede Corporation of Tullahoma, Tennessee (www.schmiedecorp.com). Some positive elements of this site are obvious: It is well designed and professional in appearance; it downloads quickly; and the company's core competencies are thoroughly and effectively displayed. Machining (including precision contract machining, EDM and honing), rebuild services (including way grinding and laser calibration) and its product line (fixturing and tombstones) round out the offerings. You'll also find a simple but effective RFQ page. But some subtle attributes of the site deserve your attention, too. For example, look at the URLs for the sections just listed (for example, www.schmiedecorp.com/machining)—they are short and simple, which makes them easier to promote in push media (print, e-mails, RFQ responses and so on). And as you peruse the site, notice the presentations of parts that correspond to the category you're viewing—the company is showing what it does, not just what it does it with.

To have your site considered for Job Shop Site Of The Month, send your URL to otw@mmsonline.com.

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