Computer science students build mobile site for major online startup
Six Washington University students are working to design a mobile website for FindTheBest.com, a search engine that helps more than 2 million consumers compare online products every month.
FindTheBest gathers data for a wide range of products and services and allows users to sort the data based on what they find most important. Similar to how KAYAK helps users find the best flights, FindTheBest helps users find the best products, depending on their priorities.
According to its “smart” rating system, which uses a weighted average of data compiled from outside sources, the Apple iPhone 4S is inferior to the HTC Titan, Wellness CORE is the best type of dog food, and Washington University is the 27th best university in the U.S., between Cornell University and Oberlin College.
But putting in one’s priorities alters these rankings; for a customer who prefers a phone carried by Verizon Wireless, the 4S moves up to first.
“What really separates FindTheBest from other comparable websites is the fact that it is completely unbiased, meaning that other companies or people who have stakes in the products listed on the website cannot pay for better search ratings. It is entirely based on the statistics,” said senior Phips Peter, one of the students working on the project.
All six students working on the mobile site are enrolled in the University’s Human Computer Interaction class, which focuses on designing more efficient interfaces for computer programs.
Senior David Seigle, who works for FindTheBest, presented the idea of building a mobile version of the site.
Graduate student Chris Schwartz and seniors Phips Peter, Matt Mitgang, Mark Rubinstein and Jonathan Wald joined in the effort.
“The current website is hard to navigate on a phone, you have to zoom a lot and pan around. It is displaying all of the information rather than the information a user would specifically want. That is one of our main hopes for this design, just to deliver the information a user cares about rather than all of the information the website has,” Rubenstein said.
FindTheBest was founded by Kevin O’Conner in 2009. O’Connor is popularly known for co-founding DoubleClick—an online advertisement provider ultimately acquired by Google for $3.1 billion.
David Seigle is the senior online editor for Student Life.