blogbeat – what a difference a little usability (and design) could make.

after the great review that BlogBeat received on TechCrunch and given my current addiction to stats (yes, I’m sure it will wear off sooner or later… although Stowe Boyd’s ongoing obsession with his Technorati ranking gives me some concern that things may go from bad to certifiable)… I decided to sign up for a free 30 day trial and see how cool it is. Afterall, there’s a few things that a specialised blog stats package could tell me that I’m not really getting from Analytics, without having to engage the left side of my brain (which I like to do as infrequently as possible).

So, to signing up. Looks simple, then you get started.

BlogBeat signup

a few things:

  1. can someone tell me *why* I have to have six or more characters in my username? its very annoying for people like me who like to have usernames with 5 or 4 characters. Is this an arbitrary number? Do techie people like it for techie reasons? Is it a security thing? Someone enlighten me. At the moment, its just an annoying thing.
  2. RSS or ATOM Url: what? I’m supposed to know that? Off by heart? Admittedly, it didn’t take long to find/work out… perhaps you could put a bit of help in there for those of us who have only been blogging for a month? (or less). We like statistics too, you know. In fact… we might even be your target audience.
  3. Time Zone – I was loving this because I don’t think that Google knows that I’m in Sydney, Australia and not in Mountain View (maybe it does… I can’t tell). So I enthusiastically scanned the dropdown to find the right one for me. Now… call me a doofus but I don’t know how many hours ahead or behind of GMT I am. I did a Google Search. Turns out, I’m GMT + 11hrs at the moment (daylight savings). Return to dropdown. Not an option. They have GMT +12hrs, but that would put me in New Zealand… which is nice for a holiday, but not forever (heh. settle down Kiwis!). Um. Why? I want a Sydney timezone option. And I’m a little miffed that it’s not there right now. What kind of a decision was that?

I haven’t even gotten to putting the code in my blog yet, so I don’t have much of a review for you, except for one screen…

BlogBeat index page
Obviously the BlogBeat guys got a clever and talented designer to come up with a nice logo for them. Why not hire someone to work on the rest of the site design?

Seriously. What is going on with using that colourful pink/green/light blue palette with your bold red/black logo?

Does anyone think an interaction designer is responsible for this layout? heh. I think not.

Who thinks this layout was designed by a developer? Odds on I’d say.

Developers, technical people. So special and so important. Please don’t waste their time on interface design. Most of them aren’t interested (or have some rather obscure ideas and focus on a very particular target audience!)

The result: Ugly. Unprofessional. And you want me to pay you?! I’m tempted not to bother with the 30 days for free…

Lucky i love free stuff. And statistics.

Design. Its important.

Even (especially) if you want someone to come buy your startup.

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