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Hi,

I ordered a one month premium subscription because I'm hoping to find some forms and additional resources to help me implement your system. My background is as a librarian and information architect, so finding information easily is something important to me. I noticed two things:

1. The website is sorely in need of usability testing and a redesign. The only reason I've been willing to spend so much time browsing/searching is because I've listened to your podcasts, which gave me the incentive to dig deeper. Many users will give up after only a few clicks.
2. The website isn't focused on us, your customers, but on you, and your desire to get customers to pay for premium memberships. Make US your focus. Ask us what we need, and design the website around that. It's the best way of getting more customers.

Thanks for listening, I love your podcasts.

Valerie McKay
Lead Information Architect
Mass.Gov: http://www.mass.gov

HMac's picture

This post has been up for two days, and NOBODY has a comment? I'm surprised.

Has the topic of the website become an "unmentionable" or is everybody just tired of it?

jhack's picture

Not sure what to say. Professionally, I work a lot on software interaction and design, and comments like "in need of usability and a redesign" are interesting data points, yet completely lacking in actionable specificity.

Valerie,

Can you be specific regarding what you were looking for and the specific problems you encountered? The site redesign did change things, and old habits no longer work. Some activities, like being able to interact with the only the most recent postings on the forums, has in fact become much easier.

I'm just a member. The MT folks did ask their customers for what they needed on the website, and they did work to make it serve those needs. MT also needed a more scalable platform. Again, if you could be specific.

Finally, there's nothing inherently wrong with using a website as the foundation for a business, and guiding users towards transactions. The web would never have become the amazing tool it is without that. Perhaps you could describe the need that's not being met?

John Hack

AManagerTool's picture

Hugh,

I don't agree with Valerie so I didn't comment. There are some things about the new site that I don't like. I actually think that the old discussion forums were better. Easier to search and we had more options to make our comments look KEWL :-) I don't think that the redesign is steering me towards the premium content. In fact, I think you have to pretty much WANT to purchase the premium content to get to that section of the site. It's not like you stumble into it on every link.

US41's picture

I avoid this topic like the plague and advise others to do the same. I've seen too many forums shut down thanks to ungrateful users posting complaints about how they were managed.

US41

rgbiv99's picture

Given that most of the content on this site is created and disseminated for free, I find it interesting that Valerie suggested the site was built around making money. Not that there's anything wrong with making money, but I don't agree with that observation.

Regarding usability and design, I think John has it right - more specifics would be helpful.

Kate

AManagerTool's picture

Kate is very right. This is FREE. The premium content is bonus content.

They could plop tons of ads/popups on these pages if they wanted to make more money....for a little while.

stephenbooth_uk's picture

True, it's a free site with lots to really good free content. If Mike and Mark decided to put direct advertisements on the site, well, we'd have to make our judgements then. Personally I probably wouldn't object to low key ads like Google Ads, pop-ups (if they made it through my pop-up blocker; here's a hint that many people don't like something, there's a tool created to explicitly stop it happening) would very likely seriously hamper my enjoyment of the site.

I think there's a big difference between expressing an opinion, as an opinion, versus complaining or dictating.

Mark and Mike have generally shown themselves to be open to questions, requests and suggestions. It's their site, it's up to them if and how they respond to questions, requests and suggestions but I hope that would never mean that we felt that we could not ask questions or make reasonable requests and suggestions.

The main feature I miss from the old forum is being able to click a link and see a list of all of a users entries. If such a feature could be created for the new forums then I would like to suggest it be implemented at some convenient time. There is a work around (go to Google and use the site search feature ('site:manager-tools.com USERNAME' replacing USERNAME with the name of the user you're searching for). It's not perfect (a lot of the links are still to the old site so are now broken) but it's workable.

Stephen

Osqhollu's picture

Valerie, I miss the old forums too.

I don't like the stupid guy staring at a screen at the top (with a finger on the mouth...), and the global waste of screen estate. I miss the avatars (we're visual creatures!), ability to search on users, the users profiles themselves, and read makers.

What I like in this new website is... err... sorry, I don't like it at all :-)

Perhaps this website will be fixed soon ? Get the old forums back!

Crossing fingers

mauzenne's picture

Helpful and specific suggestions for improvement are ALWAYS welcome. Characterizations of our motivations are not.

Having said that, we have received a ton of useful input and we are appreciative! The vast majority of items discussed in this thread are either being actively worked on or on the list for future improvements. Within the limits of our resources, we'll do our best to deliver the most useful site we are able.

Best Regards,
Mike

HMac's picture

Thanks to everybody who responded to my query.

As usual, I'm impressed by the thoughtfulness people put into their posts.

I was really surprised by the initial post's statement that the new website's focus is on getting premium customers. I didn't see that at all, and having giving it a re-look, I still don't see it. I was glad to see others express the same (I liked Tool's remark that you have to pretty much WANT the premium service to get to it...).

41: I was going to take issue with your reasons for not wanting to weigh in, and blab on about the need for insisting on open and intelligent dicussion - that is, until the accuracy of your thinking came through within a few subsequent posts! (well played 41, well played....).

Finally, Mike: you nail it. In two short sentences.

-Hugh

EricGagnon's picture

I apologize, but I have to disagree with most of your comments.

It's true that this website is not intuitive. Beeing a web designer/developper, I perceive that this website have a really simple goals (listen to podcasts, premium content and forums) but it just feels like the website is a stack of disorganised modules. It was not lazy from Valerie just to tell that she feels like this website needs usability testing. When you asked suggestions from her, you asked for what we call in usability world an "expert review". I suppose she's not an usability expert (excuse me Valerie if you are), so she can't provide you thoses informations. Even if she was, a expert review is usally more than 10 pages long... I suggest you that you take a read on what is usability testing before replying to Valerie in a manner that was (to me) quite rude.

Usually, when users give feedback about a website, all they want is generaly more "pizzaz" (more "features"). Valerie's suggestion was a better one though: an easy to use website will incitate more people to stay on and use the site.

To MT team: I can explain you in further details what is Usability testing and how it can greatly add value to your website if you wish. Just PM me.

And BTW, it would be time to change the copyright. Since your website is in PHP, you can simply do the following (kindly spoonfed by me :) ):

echo '<p>© ' . date('Y') . ' Manager Tools, LLC. All rights reserved. <a href="terms-of-use">Terms of Use</a> | <a href="privacy-policy">Privacy Policy</a></p>';

And also, your "code" tag doesn't work at all. It should invoke the "htmlspecialchars" instead.

davfive's picture

 ... simple and effective!

rthibode's picture

Stephen, thanks for the useful work-around site:manager-tools.com USERNAME.

I have been away for a couple of years and I'm still feeling very lost with all the changes to the site and especially the forums. Your search suggestion allowed me to at least review the threads where I had posted and see if there were new replies. Thanks!

R.