Monday, June 14, 2010

BookCrossing 2.0, boo hiss!

Time for a good rant again. Now let's see if I can keep it short. OK, relatively short. ;-)

So, changed over to a brand new design a few weeks ago ... supposed to be so much better and such an improvement. New & improved. Improved my shiny metal ass. I personally, as a longtime user (shit, that sounds bad!), can't really see any improvement at all. >:-(

I do understand the reasons why the powers that be over there wanted to make a change. They have the stats and the background to read them, and if they say that with the old format they were seeing a lot of people arriving at the front page of the site and then clicking away without looking any further, then I accept that as given and I totally understand that they would want to do something about that. I just think that what they have tried to do is a total fail.

First off, trying to look at it from a new user's POV - or rather, a potential new user - the site looks totally boring. Yes, there were some problems with the layout before. The drop down menus, for instance. But the general look of the site was SO much better. You saw immediately that there was a hell of a lot going on. Now there's almost nothing to see. I've been a member for going on four years and when I went to the site today without logging on, I had to really search to find the forums! There is no link to the forums on the front page, which in itself isn't too bad, except that there isn't even a hint that such a thing as the forums exist. Yay for community feeling. >:-(

Speaking of which, I really hate that they stuck with the name 'Members Plus' for the wings program. (Sorry, I'm calling them wings from here to forever. That's what they're called. Sue me.) There was a thread on one of the forums, started a while before the changeover, in which members were invited to say what we thought, should it be called wings or Members Plus? Because they 'care what we think'. I am not at all exaggerating if I say that at least 90% of those who replied (and there were a lot of replies) were strongly in favor of the old name, wings. Yet here we are, changeover complete and irrevocable, and they're still going with Members Plus. WTF was the point of asking us if you don't care what we think and you were going to go with the new name the whole time anyway??

Everybody's profiles look much more boring now ... and I can only imagine how pointless & utterly dull they must seem to newbies or random arrivals, who don't realize (if they even figure out how to find people's profiles) that they have to click a link to see any more information about that member than just the stats ... which they will have a hard time figuring out anyway, I predict.

Searching for books is incredibly hard now since they took away the 'advanced search' function ... I've done a shitload of searches for books I know are on my shelf, but sorry, no results found. The option of 'leaving a book in the wild' is also gone, and that was a function I used a hell of a lot, since I manage the OBCZ at the Central Station and journal a lot of books for the zone. I'm not at all sure how to do that now, it's going to be journalled wrong. Dagnabbit.

I do realize that in a changeover like this, there are bound to be bugs. But I have never in my life as a net user seen anything as buggy as this. I think they must have done a pretty poor job of testing the new site, because it's been weeks now and there are still so many bugs, even though it's nothing compared to how crazy it was at first. But still, how about removing at least most of them before changing the whole site over?? Yes, I freely admit that I'm not a computer programmer and I hardly know anything about these things ... I don't even know exactly what a computer programmer does. But what did we have the beta site for if it wasn't to test for these things before the new version went public??

Yeah yeah yeah, BookCrossing is great and I do appreciate all the hard work that the people behind the scenes put into it. I just am really disillusioned with the place right now. As in, they ask us members to report any bugs we come across to help them troubleshoot, but I haven't been doing that. The sad truth is that right now I don't care enough to help them out. :-(

I am still a BookCrosser and I don't plan to ever quit ... in fact I did a really fun book release just yesterday. But apart from registering the books I have lying around and releasing them every so often, I'm mostly staying away from the site these days. I'm hoping they'll work all the bugs out, I really am ... but I don't honestly feel any interest in wasting any of my own time on them. As much as I love BookCrossing and appreciate the efforts made by the team, I seriously question whether they had really thought this all out before pushing it through.

OK, rant over. Non-BookCrossers reading this: Can you find the forums on the BC site? BCers reading this, I'd love to get your input. But wait! Wasn't this Keanu Monday? No, actually it wasn't, because tomorrow is Keanu day ... !!! Wait and see ... ! ;-)


Paz said...

from a non user point of view, I couldn't get into anything unless I signed up and as you say its boring looking and I wouldn't get interested

Leisha Camden said...

Thanks for the effort - I found the trick though, if you want to see the forums without being logged on (they are freely visible to anyone) then what you do is click on one of the recently caught or released books on the front page. Or the name of the user in question. That'll take you to a journal page or a profile, where the drop down menus are visible. The forums are under 'Community'. But it's like I said, how would you even know there were forums from just looking at that page? It looks dull as dishwater and you get no impression at all of what's going on there. I'm going to be really interested in seeing some stats on the numbers of new members signing up with the site looking like this compated to before.

A major point is that if people get the impression that they have to sign up to see anything interesting, you've already lost almost all of them. >:-(

Leisha Camden said...


KAS said...

First thought: first page, first one you land on: much improved! I never liked the old start page...

But then confusion sets in when it appears that you have to sign up to see anything (you don't, I know, but realising that took a few seconds longer than it should have).

I really didn't like the old design, but based on the two minutes I just spent on the site, I don't like the new one either.

Elin said...

What I dislike the most are all the bugs! Nor am I too crazy about the layout, I actually liked the old one.But yes, bugs! I have reported several, but for how long have they been fixing bugs now? (And they still call the new site beta!) So, yeah. I agree with you. The site is far from as good as it used to be, but fortunately not as bad as when it was first released.

awaywithfairies said...

The site was in a testing phase for a month or so before it "went live" with a group of volunteers looking at the site and reporting bugs (I was one of them). Would you believe me if I told you there were *lots* more bugs reported in that early stage? Many of those early bugs hadn't even been fixed before the new site was launched.

I was incredibly surprised to hear that it was being launched in the state it was in. I was under the impression that was going to be a lot more work done before a launch was even going to be considered.

Like you, I'm not a computer programmer, so I just have to accept the official explanation that the old site just wasn't sustainable any more. But I've spoken with several BCers who *are* professional website developers and they're not impressed with the lack of functionality. So there you go.