Real Time Focus Group Feedback: Part One

We’re getting a ton of feedback on the site. I’m going to run through some of the top quesitons.

I understand the need to keep people on the Netscape page. After all, if you send them away, they don’t see your ads, and then you can’t turn a profit. But the side frame is a bit much; I’d much rather see a “top bar” akin to Google Images or something of that nature. J. Botter

J. Botter is referring to our “Navigator Frame” which you can see in the image below.

This is by far the most controversial part of the site design to date. The concept is that when you leave the site we give you a navigation frame that lets you see other related stories. The point of the Navigator is to help folks quickly navigate to other related stories–not to trap folks.

Important things to note:

1. You can click on the “via” link under the headline to go the site without a frame.
2. You can close the frame at any time
3. We don’t put any advertising in it (that would be be wrong in my mind).

Regardless, we’ve spoken about the Navigator with the team and we’re going to add a setting where you can turn it off–PERMENTLY! Look for the change this week.

Mike Doel: 1. It’s clear that the editorial commentary and follow-up journalism is what will ultimately make this site successful. But, unless I’m missing it somewhere, there’s no way to tell from the front page which stories have been given this treatment and which haven’t. The front page should include some kind of badge or other visual indicator on stories that have input from your anchors.

Mike is 100% correct, you should be able to tell if there is Anchor Commentary from the top level.

As such we’ve added a little anchor next to headlines with anchor commentary (aren’t we smart :-). You can see two examples below.

Mike Doel’s second questions: 2. Your channel selection list is somewhat limited. And given the tagging of stories, it doesn’t need to be. Let me create channels of my choosing based on tags.

Right now we have 30 top-level channels for people to put their stories in and you can pull up any tag at any time. I’m not sure exactly what more Mike is looking for, but the concept of channel for us is that these are places that have enough activity for us to put an Anchor on. So, Autos and Food have anchors dedicated to them to keep them nice and clean and populated. If we expand to quickly we’re gonna have too much to manage in terms of top 20 lists.

Mike Doel’s 3rd question: The local weather/news box seems a bit odd. It’s like a half-hearted attempt to maintain a portal experience. Either embrace being a portal and make it possible for me to aggregate several other personalized items or drop it. As it stands now, I doubt I will be conditioned to go to the site to find my weather.

If you run a portal you have to have weather and maps–it’s that simple. We’ll add more items soon–give us some time dude!

Mike Doel’s 4th question: 4. It’s unfortunate that the authentication mechanism used on the site appears to be a roll-your-own deal instead of reusing SNS. If you had used SNS, you would have had a built-in audience already from every AIM, AOL, and Netscape user who already has an account. I can definitely see confusion in your audience when you move this out of beta and all of the people currently using www.netscape.com don’t understand why they need to recreate accounts.

We are going to support SNS soon, so your AIM and AOL logins will work on Netscape. This is gonna take a ton of time, so we didn’t want to hold the site up for that one feature.

Mike Doel’s 7th question: Somewhat related to comment 2, will I be able to subscribe to RSS feeds based off of things like “stories with anchor followup”, or “stories with tag X”, or “stories voted on by user Y”, etc?

Everything on the site will have an RSS feed shortly (many do already, they are just not exposed). We are working on some scale issues with RSS so stay posted.

There will also be an Anchor Commentary Tracker (with RSS) shortly.

Scott-O-Rama says: This may be a bug, but I sick and tired of signing in over and over again. I have cookies enable, so remember me already!

It’s a bug, it’s been fixed. Clear your cookies and restart your browser and you should be good.

Scott-O-Rama says: It would be nice if I could see who has vote on a particular story.

No joke! We forgot to put that in… we’re working on it. It will be on the permalink page.

Scott-O-Rama says: Let me edit tags on stories I submit. This is crucial as I mistagged one, and now there is nothing I can do about it except possibly resubmit the story.

We are working on this. We don’t want folks editing stories because then they could put out one story, get a bunch of votes and then change to some crazy story (i.e. a hate site) and everyone who voted for it would have their name on a hate site story–not good. I think letting people add tags might be ok. Right now our anchors are adding tags, so if you have a problem just hit the feedback button on the top right and send us the extra tags.

Scott-O-Rama says: Create bookmarklets and buttons for people to add on their site. This is also crucial. It will give you more publicity and make it much easier to submit stories.

Good idea. 🙂

Scott-O-Rama says: Put more emphasis on the “Find New Stories” area. The new Netscape beta has only been live for a day or so, but already the front page content is stale. Very stale. Encouraging visitors to look at new submissions and vote on them will help keep the site fresher.

This is an issue. Right now you can find new stories by:

1. Going to the channels
2. Hitting the “next page” link on the TOS (top of service/homepage) or on the channels page.
3. Looking at your friends stories.
4. Looking in the Tracker.
5. Using the Search.

Note: The home page was stale because our “velocity” formula didn’t have an downward movement. So, we added a “gravity” formula which pulls stories down the page. It might be *too* fresh now. We’re gonna need a week or two to figure this one out.

Scott-O-Rama says: The site holds a lot of potential, and I’m glad to see the Netscape name reborn. When I read the NYT article and saw that you were in charge, I was glad because I love what you did with Weblogs, Inc.

Thanks! We’re off to a good start and the feedback from folks like you is really helpful. We’re in uncharted waters right now, and we’re gonna need a lot of help finding the new world!

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