Thoughts on the Technorati beta
June 13, 2005 at 12:23 PM
Jay Fienberg tells me that there is a new Technorati Beta out for everyone to kick the tires on. A lot of great people are working on Technorati and have contributed to this beta release. While I agree it's an improvement over the current version, some of the issues I have reported in the past still remain to be problems today. Since in my previous post I didn't go into details (those were communicated via private emails) I thought I should point out the burning ones I have noticed this time around publicly. They are mostly to do with search. Here goes:
Inconsistent IA - First and foremost is the lack of consistency in navigational interface and interaction. For example pagination should be consistent across all pages linked within that paginated set of pages. Some of the lesser used searches produce paginated results that are apparently less than the total number of pages in the pagination navigation.
Performance - What can I say, the search is still damn slow. I know they have a ton of data to deal with but there are ways to improve the performance... most of which will probably involve re-writing a lot of code but will be well worth it to the end user (it's almost painful for me to use it, yes, that slow beyond the first page of results). My suggestion would be to reprogram the search engine, the value of a fast performing search engine related to the purpose of this site outweighs the amount of time and money it would take to re-program it.
Usability - There is a lot of what we in the IA world refer to as "mystery meat navigation" which is to say icons and content that are linked but it is unclear of what sort of functionality that link has or what page it would take the user to. For example "Posted 1 day ago in Donut Age" for someone who doesn't visit all the sites in the Technorati database it is going to be confusing to know that Donut Age is actually a blog. The experience is sort of traumatic to the user in that it launches them into a different site with a totally different UI when they click on that link. Another example is the use of the little caption bubble often found in comics. What does this mean? What should I know about that icon. Most users may think that the link would lead them to a page where they can comment on the search result. My suggestion would be to remove the icons, they don't make since.
Metaphors - When a design of the site's architecture calls for the use of tabs it is best to keep all secondary and tertiary navigation tab-less to avoid confusion of page state. Here we see both primary and on some pages secondary navigation using the tab metaphors. It is a bit confusing to the user if they try to follow this metaphor. My suggestion would be to remove the second level of tabs and just use a standard navigation or integrate the design of the secondary tabs better with the content it is switching between.
Having said all of that, my intent is to help Technorati improve their product and produce a more efficient and effective user experience. This will, in turn, deliver Technorati as a valuable tool to anyone interest in listing to the world of blogs.
I want to add one more thing to that. I really like the "intent" here.. I really want to see the site succeed, it's the "implementation" that I get caught up on... it could be so much better.
When the bubble icon is used, it is nearly always matched with text like "100 new links. View All
I think I can live with a lot of the issues raised, although they certainly are annoying issues, but the speed really leaves a lot to be desired. If anything, it seems even slower now.