Trying to find the perfect product for a project takes up an immense amount of time. I suppose eventually I’ll begin to know manufacturers and their wares, but as a student, I still know very little. So, when I’ve needed to specify, say, a sidechair for a school project, I end up flipping endlessly through design magazines and Googling for “designer sidechair” or something equally vague. The magazines will provide some ideas, but not always what I have in mind, and a general web search is almost always futile.

I’ve tried to develop efficient ways to organize the products and materials I have discovered, but so far haven’t hit upon a workable solution. My little collection of catalogues and materials doesn’t even scratch the surface, and since they’re not centrally indexed, it’s back to flipping. Keeping folders or notebooks with notes or cutouts never seems to get off the ground and I can’t find anything in these collections of notes anyway. I need a way to access just the information I need, when I need it.

I may have just found a tool that might be useful: Rollyo.

Rollyo is a website that allows you to create customizable search engines. You create or “roll” your own lists (“searchrolls”) of websites you know that pertain to whatever subjects you decide to organize. Then, if you are looking for something that falls within the scope of one of your searchrolls, you can search just within your designated sites, saving you the hassle of combing through the thousands of sites you’d get in a general web search for the same thing. You can view and search other people’s searchrolls too and add their searchrolls to your collection.

You can use Rollyo even if you don’t have your own searchrolls by entering a search term on the explore page. When I plugged in “design,” I got a long list of searchrolls, most of them pertaining to web design, but a few on architectural or interior design. A general exploration of others’ searchrolls is not likely to help me find a product, but it might lead to something interesting.

I’ve just started several searchrolls – lighting, architectural hardware, wallcoverings, windows, architectural tiles, and independent living – based on ads, articles, and websites I found in a recent magazine. I also found a searchroll that someone else had created that looked interesting enough to add. As I find companies or websites that have products or information that I’d like to remember, I’ll add them to my searchrolls. Once my lists are comprehensive enough, my hope is that I will be able to find things I am looking for much faster.

This is a great use of the internet – fast access to specialized information. Rollyo could be a terrific tool for organizing a personalized product “library.”

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