As I'm currently on a quest to find new Domino blogs to read, you'd think that a site like Dominoblogs.com would be the answer to my prayers. Laurette Rynne mentioned this site on Friday and linked to what, I assume, must be her site. It's a shame I now know a name to go with the site, as I was going to criticise it, but now I know the owner I fear it may be too personal. Oh well, here goes.
Hopefully Laurette will take this as positive criticism and hopefully the due-soon updates to the design will fix the problems I am about to describe. The site is a great idea and one I'd happily subscribe to as a source of new reads if it weren't for the inherent problems in using it. While I hate to poo-poo the efforts of other individuals (who am I to critisise!?) I think there may be lessons in usability within.
The first problem with Dominoblogs.com is the homepage (ignoring the delay while you're redirected to it). The first thing you see is all the feeds (apparently there's a 140 or so) arranged in to areas based on the geographical region they come from.
Imagine, like me, you're going there to randomly look for new reading material, then this is the last thing you want to see. With blogging, the location of the blogger is completely irrelevant and something I rarely think about. Although it's nice to know there whereabouts of who you're reading it's not important.
What follows is an alphabetical listing of bloggers in the chosen region, along with links to the blog and its RSS feed.
Finding what you want you want from this list is, once again, a matter of lucky dip. It's now down to random selection of feeds to read to check whether you think they're worth subscribing too. While this isn't the end of the world and is a lot better than there being no Dominoblogs.com, I think a few moderations would make it so much better.
This would be my to-do list were I the owner of the site:
- Remove geographically categorised view from homepage and replace it with list of the ten most recently added sites.
- Make the whole lot available as an OPML file to download and import in to feed readers.
- Add an RSS feed of all the sites ordered by when they're added.
- Allow each site to be flagged to show whether it's development/administration, web/client etc
- Have a system to monitor each feed and display when it was last updated along with how often it's updated in general. This would allow for flagging/removal of "dead" blogs.
- Add a quick-add form for a new blog submission to the homepage.
- Add a peer review/voting system to rate each blog. Good way of showing how on-topic a blog is.
- Differentiate between blogs about Domino and blogs based on Domino.
- Maybe have a "featured blog" section on the homepage, updated weekly/monthly.
There's a lot of potential for the site if the owner's willing to put the work in. Websites are changing. We're now in the age of "Web 2.0". Making a website is no longer simply a case of making the information available. We now how to think about how people want to access this information and make it easy for them to do so. Users expect more of websites and soon grow tired when they can't get what they want and do so simply and easily.
As Laurette mentioned, there's an upgrade due soon. Hopefully this will make it usable. As it stands it's simply a hard-to-acess list of Domino blogs and of little use without better organisation. For now, if you want to get noticed on there, add your blog to North America and call it "123 AAA Domino Blog". You're bound to get noticed...