Sunday, June 03, 2007

Web 2.0 problems

First, let's deconstruct the way this post title was chosen.

I went to Google Battle and tested some alternate titles, and the number of times each phrase was searched on Google was as follows:

Web 2.0 errors: 92 M
Web 2.0 mistakes: 23 M
Web 2.0 sucks: 1.6 M
Web 2.0 problems: 155 M

top Web 2.0 problems: 113 M
most common Web 2.0 problems: 23 M

Thus, the winner was "Web 2.0 problems", according to Google Battle.

Now, here are the worst Web 2.0 annoyances I have encountered in my relentless quest to find well coded, relevant, valuable interactivity tools and social networking communities. I alpha/beta test many sites as I seek new platforms for clients and for personal purposes.

Top Web 2.0 Problems:

(1) broken functionalities

Example: click on Submit or Sign Up at Instructables, nothing happens.

(2) missing functionalities

Example: you can't delete uploaded mp3s from Podsafe Music Networks.

(3) no, or insufficient, FAQ, Help, Getting Started Tips, or User Guide

Many times you're expected to just know intuitively how to work the site, how to accomplish basic tasks. Often, I have to navigate the site in convoluted manner to get to the functionality I seek.

(4) no clickable sidebar badges

A powerful, effective way to promote a new site or tool is to freely advertise it on your blog. A great way to do that is by adding a graphic link button, or clickable badge, to your blog's sidebar. But many companies fail to provide the HTML code, or even a right clickable logo, for us to make into a clickable badge.

(5) no Feedback form/sluggish response to user input
New sites in particular stand to benefit from large amounts of critique from early adaptors. But they often make it a pain to provide this free expertise. When you email the support team, your input is either ignored or it takes a long time to hear back from the company. This negligence is contrary to the principles of Web 2.0, which is supposed to be more participatory and interactive than Web 1.0

(6) CEO/Lead Developer is on Twitter, Jaiku, etc. but fail to provide link to their page

While they may talk about being on Twitter, Jaiku, and other social networks, good luck trying to find their page. Often they're using not their actual name but a nickname or avatar handle like "code prowler", "Fitz", or "Frivmo". Smart ones will use their real name or company name. like "Mobasoft" or "Fuel My Blog", to facilitate finding their Twitter page.

[EDIT UPDATE: I did not mean to slam those, including me, who use non-anonymous aliases, nicknames, pseudonyms. I use "vaspers" for darn near everything, but I always reveal my real name in a Profile or About page: Steven E. Streight (don't forget the E.).

I just meant that using your company name is a bit better in some cases, as in Fuel My Blog. Robert Scoble uses the name of his blog "Scobleizer" like I use "Vaspers".

You must determine what works best for your branding, memorability, etc.]

(7) insufficient input choices

Example: on Facebook, when you add a Contact or Friend or whatever the hell they call it, a panel appears, asking you "how do you know this person?"

But there possible answers provided are leaning toward casual friendships, school, and romantic entanglements, making it like the MySpace toilet. There is no "met via blogging" or "on another social networking site". So you have to select "met randomly", then a text entry box pops up, so you can explain what you mean.

(8) no invites to distribute to your friends

Amazingly, some Web 2.0 sites fail to provide you with any method for inviting your friends, family, or colleagues to join. Freebase commits this error. Spock gives you 5 invites by default, but I asked for 30 more, explained who I was and who my colleagues are, and I got 50 invites. That was very cool.

(9) no info on your personal URL, or a long, hard to remember URL

I love how my URL at Twitter is and at Jaiku, it's, but at some sites, you are given a complicated URL string that's hard to recall. They say it's for security, but why should there be a security problem with people simply visiting your page? I thought access to your profile and site files was protected by your email addy, username, and password.

Some sites don't even display any "your personal [tool/community] URL" info.

(10) dysfunctional sign up, register, login, installer, or upgrade

Popfly has a broken login. I could not even get past the sign up process. I had a valid invitation key, but the site kept rejecting my email and password. Horrible coding.

Joost installer will not work.

Skype upgrade generates a "corrupted file" error message.


All these problems, annoyances, and headaches could be avoided by running user observation tests on 4 to 8 typical users.

Instead, they slap the crappy "Beta" label on it. Beta means screw the users. Beta means mediocre, "don't worry, be crappy" garbage. Beta means they're too lazy, stupid, or cheap to do code testing and usability analysis on their products.


Jeremy said...

Can I add a basic lack of understanding about PR and marketing, where they think that blog buzz is all it takes?

Per Ploug Hansen said...

Excellent list. One or two of them is a bit ho hum (like missing badges..)

So if you look at your list of issues with your exemples it just makes Jacob Nielsen look even more like an angry old man, comparing web 2.0 with

steven edward streight said...

Per Ploug Hansen: I differ with your assessment of clickable sidebar link badges to promote a site.

I find them to be a powerful tool for driving traffic to sites. Funny, attractive, cool looking badges can GO VIRAL!!!! heh

I also am a disciple of Nielsen, but he does not get blogs. He is more an ecommerce website guy.

Christy said...

Example: click on Submit or Sign Up at Instructables, nothing happens.

Instructables should be fixed as of this morning.
Sorry about that one- we've been doing some very frequent updates to push out the features our users have requested, and too much testing is never enough.

We do, however, respond to comments, emails, constructive criticism, and feature requests!


steven edward streight said...

Christy of Instructables: Thank you for taking time to explain this in a comment here.

I was really disappointed because I had Twittered about Instructables, and people found it very cool.

I was wanting to contribute some articles to it, on user observation testing and other skills I have.

Will try it again.


Christy said...

I was wanting to contribute some articles to it, on user observation testing and other skills I have.

Will try it again.

Cool- I'll be looking forward to it.
Feel free to drop me an email (at the obvious address) or private message on the site.


carrie said...

google battle is interesting sounding.
i've never checked it out.

i agree with a lot of these, especially 7, also 4.