Assista is Launched


Congrats to Sahar and team on the launch of Assista, the website he and Jeff Bhavnanie has been working on for a few years. The premise of Assista is that it helps you learn about a particular subject by tapping into other people’s questions. For example, I am currently researching Lowell, Massachusetts for my project. When I typed in “Lowell,” I saw questions that people had related to the city and to other Lowell-related topics (like Mike Lowell).
Overall, I think this is a fresh approach that will become popular, as it can help searchers expand the breadth of their initial search. While looking for one thing about a topic, many other questions can be seen, which could spawn new ideas and thoughts that may never have been had by the searcher.
Sahar and team has an aggressive goal of becoming one of the top 10 search sites in the next 18 months, and one of the top five in the next 3 years. These are lofty goals, but with the brains behind the project, it could be feasible. Here are a couple of suggestions I have:
1) As much as looks aren’t everything, the site doesn’t look great. I know this isn’t a major concern of Sahar’s at this point, but I think that will be key to going mainstream.
2) Speed is essential. While the results aren’t slow, they need to speed up. This will come in time.
3) It might be better if they frame the results from the “same window” page, that way the person can easily return to their results. For example, when the person clicks on “same window” for one of the results, they are taken to that site, but the Assista logo remains on the top of the page, so the person can return. I lack the tech knowledge/terminology – sorry.
4) When I got the results for a “Red Sox” search, it returned: 7336 questions / 267 exact matches / 7069 partial matches. There was no difference between 7336 questions / 267 exact matches. When I clicked both of those links, the same results showed up.
5) When I searched for something very specific, I didn’t receive any results. I searched, “Does salt increase cholesterol?” The search produced no results, but disappointingly, it didn’t make any alternate suggestions either.

Overall, I really like the concept quite a bit. I like how I can get a popup window to show me a preview of the results page. I think this is going to get pretty big!

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