[thelist] whatis.com redesigned into uselessness.

Rudy_Limeback at maritimelife.ca Rudy_Limeback at maritimelife.ca
Fri Aug 18 13:29:21 CDT 2000

> Anyone who does this kind of a radical redesign of the 
> content and the usability to a content site deserves the wrath of users.

i too sent a long list of complaints yesterday

today, i got two replies, one from a marketing manager at techtarget

  "Thanks for letting us know how you feel about our site redesign. 
   We are experiencing some problems with our migration and we know 
   the site is less than optimal at this time. But please bear with 
   us. All the great information you've come to rely  on (with a 
   quicker response time) will be up and operational within a few days"

and the other reply was from the guy who created whatis.com 

   Thanks for some apt comments!  Your note expressed the opinions 
   and frustrations of many users so well that I forwarded it with 
   my own comments to the TechTarget.com management team, including 
   the CEO. They will read it."

   As the former owner and still "whatis site advocate" in this new 
   company, I'll be around another year and a half.  Since I use the 
   site myself a lot, I'm going to keep demanding that we restore as 
   much as possible of what existed about a week ago.  Meanwhile, we 
   face a slew of performance problems.  I do think you'll find that 
   the management team knows they made a big mistake and will do what 
   they can to fix it soon."

quite an interesting difference in tone, eh?

he also asked about content management systems (expressing doubt that they 
would switch from vignette at this point) so in my reply back to him, i 
pointed him to martin's article http://evolt.org/index.cfm?menu=8&cid=1449 and the camworld page http://www.camworld.com/cms/

i also went into some detail explaining why those lovely self-descriptive 
urls such as http://www.whatis.com/icejello.htm should be preserved (translated, redirected, whatever) instead of ending 
up in 404s 

i think they've got the message, let's see how fast they can fix it

if anything, this fiasco is a pretty good case study in how a corporate 
takeover of a successful site (ostensibly for what purpose? to grab their 
audience, of course) can be a total fuckup if they forget design and 
usability along the way

one of the remarks he made about vignette was that techtarget chose 
vignette "because
ZDNet and similar companies use it and because, as with any new startup, 
there's a need to ramp up quickly"

sounds just like the kind of decision you get from a roomful of suits

<rant type="the insanity never ends">
the company i work for made a similar decision this week, using a 
committee of twenty mostly IT people (i was excluded -- sniff) to settle 
on using office 2000 as the company's new standard web publishing tool, 
specifically a consulting-company-written custom front-end content 
management system interfacing office 2000 to a site server backend...  the 
scuttlebutt says one of the strong selling points was the live demo (and 
we all know what that means)...  now "ordinary people" will be able to 
publish to the intranet, using tools like word and excel and powerpoint 
that they're already comfortable with... thank god they decided to 
terminate me later this year, i really don't think i would want to keep 
working here, and to have them pay me to leave, well, that just seems like 
a nice bonus...

of course, what everybody forgets is that it isn't about the technology, 
it's about the content

imagine having a successful web site that every fourth or fifth web site 
in the entire universe has links to, such as www.whatis.com/icejello.htm, 
and then converting all your content to urls like http://www.whatis.com/WhatIs_Definition_Page/0,4152,212307,00.html and then not even thinking of redirects that send visitors to the new 
urls, but letting them end up in 404s...

duh, eh?

rudy limeback

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