Sunday, December 17, 2006

web usability and social networking

So, as I read through my latest copy of Yoga Journal (which, finally, I've made some time to read), I see an ad for zaadz, a social networking site (think MySpace) for spiritually-minded, conscious-capitalism type folks. Think MySpace meets a yoga/nature retreat. Great idea, I thought. So I started clicking around, checking things out.

zaadz.com screenshot

Overall, it's still a great idea. One small problem, though: it's really hard to use.

Don't get me wrong; things work the way they should. It's not like my issues with Gather, which kicks you out every time you leave the site even if you tell it to remember your password and makes you go through three steps to delete a single e-mail. This is more an issue of someone in marketing getting the better of the design team.

For one thing, the visuals of the site don't really say what the site is about. Instead, there's this massive pile of copy that explains to you what the site is about that you have to read all the way through to actually get it. Then, you have to deal with the navigation. Instead of just telling you what everything is with names that actually make sense, the navigation is populated with rather annoying marketing speak: "zPods." "zPages." "zaazters." (what the heck are "zaazters"? Is that a real word?)

zaadz.com navigation

While I appreciate the desire to be unique, I have a pretty fair amount of web experience at this point in my career (after all, I build sites as part of my living), and even I didn't know what half of that stuff meant. Or at the very least, I had to think about what it could be a lot longer than I should have had to.

Mind you, it's still in its early stages; hopefully they'll be able to find and fix some of these things before they fully launch. And I'll probably still end up joining, even if I don't end up spending much time on it. But some advice for them, and for anyone building a site for that matter: if you want more people to stick around on your site, don't try to give things clever marketing names. Name them what they are.

Which reminds me, I have to change some things around on the tzk site. More on that in January.

2 comments:

~C4 said...

thanks for the shout out and the constructive criticisms. we'll look into it ;)

here's my zaadz URL:
http://coolmel.zaadz.com

~C

Dani Nordin said...

I'm glad you took my comments to heart. It looks like a great site, and I look forward to checking it out more when I'm back from vacation!