I’m breaking my own rule about waiting 30 days before issuing any updates to a new web project, but it’s with good reason. Mike will be heading to China for a month-long vacation starting Saturday and I wanted to work with him to push out the changes rather than try to go at it solo (things tend to come out much better when we do that…)
There were also several common threads in the feedback we received that pointed out some problems that I wanted to try to fix sooner rather than later. I do feel a bit bad about my feedback rant because I neglected to mention that, despite it being difficult to hear, a lot of it is very important to hear. I also neglected to mention that part of why it’s hard to hear all of the negative feedback is because it’s version 1.0 of something developed with a small team in a matter of months while still running a growing e-commerce company. A first version is the absolute worst that a site will ever be. It’s the very beginning of a long iterative improvement process. It’s not a final product (like a physical good) that cannot be changed. Most people reading this understand that, but other people don’t always.
Anyways, after relaxing a bit and re-reading everything it seemed as if there were some common problems, almost all stemming back to our UI and most specifically the home page UI. Even if people didn’t specifically complain about the user interface, it could be inferred from their comments that that was what caused their confusion/frustration. I heard enough to conclude:
- We didn’t do a good job explaining what the product was on the home page
- There was way too much text on the home page
- The usability of the site was difficult
I think with this update we did a pretty good job addressing those things, especially considering we’re on a limited time budget and this is only the first attempt at an improvement.
Here’s what the old home page looked like (click for full-size):
Here’s what the new one looks like:
The main things we did:
- Ditched the right nav. The login moved to the upper-right, the “More” footer moved to the lower-right, and the post-it note was detached, improved, and placed on the “desktop”. The nav just wasn’t necessary – it added a lot of extra text to the page, filled up a large portion of the page with stuff that most people didn’t need, and – unless you were on a super high res monitor – you were missing out on the background image because the two nav bars and the content were filling up your entire screen. The hardest part about this was requiring an extra click to log in, but I’m OK with it because most people stay logged in and bypass the home page all together the majority of the time (you get redirected straight to your news).
- Less text. We have a tab-like interface to still show each team in each league without overwhelming you with text. We thought the original version was uber-simple to use – just a list of every team in sports, you click your favorite and get started – but I can see how seeing 122 teams listed at once can be overwhelming.
- Screenshots of the app to add more graphics to the home page.
- Text explaining what the hell it does. Again, we thought this was obvious once you clicked your team, but we had enough people stop at the home page and never click anything because they didn’t understand what the app did.
- Better support for low-res browsers (1024×768 and lower, see the screenshot below). Something we should have prior to launch. I really feel bad. I dropped the ball on this one. I think had we tested less frequently on high res wide screen monitors and more on lower res screens we could have avoided some of these issues from the get go. Now anyone on a 1024×768 resolution has just as good of an experience as someone at full 1080P 1920×1080.
All in all, I’m really happy with how it came out. Definitely a step in the right direction. While Mike is gone, I have a handful of minor improvements I’m going to make, but for the most part I’m going to turn my programming efforts to DI and the rest of my time to LP marketing.
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