Friday, February 10, 2006

Squidoo usability thoughts

Seth Godin, the King of Bloggers, whose blogging style is astonishing for brevity, info, and power, has a new web product.

Squidoo
Where experts reside.

You have to have some expertise in some area, and be willing to share it, with associated ecommerce products available.

It's Beta, Techy, and FREE.

What more could you want? It's appears, at first glance, to be a full blown set of web tools for an ecommerce or interactive information site. You get a full suite of administrative tools, much like WordPress. I'm just starting to explore it. Haven't read all the FAQs and related info.

I fired off an email to Seth, thanking him for the site, and he was happy to receive my positive feedback. I think this is a very interesting experiment.

I've read NONE of the promotional or introductory material.

I just jumped right into it from a link at a blog that was bitching about something Shel Israel of Naked Conversations said recently in his harsh critique of the new McDonalds blog. By rising to defend my friend Shel Israel, I got lucky and discovered the new Squid web initiative.

I don't know what it is...yet. They call them Lenses. You make a Lens site that Focuses on a topic by providing links. It's not a blog. Is it a link log site, like Robot Wisdom? It seems to be a professional or scholarly alternative to MySpace.

Squidoo reminds me a little of the WordPress UI. But Squidoo includes automated RSS feeds and del.icio.us tagging once you set up an account.

With Squidoo, you are launched into a variety of application opportunities.

PROBLEMS

They need bigger, more prominent "Edit My Lens", "Publish Newly Edited Lens", "Tweak Template", and "Contact Us Form".

Modules are not explained well. It's interesting that there is no "?" in a circle that links to an explanation, like you see in so many software products. My "lens" has lots of empty modules: Introduction, Link List, RSS, Text, Amazon, Google Maps, Flickr, Indeed. I don't want users to see a bunch of empty modules, with no content.

I have not figured out how to get rid of unused modules.

They need a Help link on every page. I don't see one on the Edit Lens page.

I feel a loss of control. Is it just that it's new to me, or has Squidoo not considered user needs and behavior as well as they should? I feel frustrated by the organization of Squidoo.

There are helpful topics in the Squidoo U (university), but no step by step process for what you can do.

I like the online contact form, like a chatbox, you just type in your comment and click "Send". Nothing to fill out, since you're already Logged In.

I'm not sure why modules are present when empty. Do you see a bunch of empty modules when you view Revolutionary Army of the Infant Blog?

Why is that?

I'm emailing the site administrator to see if I can resolve these issues.

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