Tweet So yesterday I had an interesting day. It started out with a Tweet and email from Guy Kawasaki introducing his new www.alltop.com website. Now strictly speaking alltop.com is not new, it has existed as a collection of topics like mac.alltop.com for a while now. So what was Guy on about? Well the team behind [...]
So yesterday I had an interesting day. It started out with a Tweet and email from Guy Kawasaki introducing his new www.alltop.com website. Now strictly speaking alltop.com is not new, it has existed as a collection of topics like mac.alltop.com for a while now.
So what was Guy on about? Well the team behind alltop.com had created a new frontend that unites the seperate collections together into one easy place to find data.
Simple enough right? Well … no, I in my usual fashion I mentioned something about how I felt the site was flawed. It wasn’t as user friendly and certainly wasn’t giving the results expected. So low and behold I got into a little of a … shall we say ‘discussion’ with Guy via Twitter, Techcrunch and finally via email (which is probably where it should have started and stopped).
Lesson One: pick the right medium to discuss with someone (doesn’t matter who it is) their website
So, what is alltop?
In Guy’s own words:
“Alltop is a directory to source news not a search engine of source news“
Okay that makes perfect sense right? I can stop writing now? Hmm no. See this is still not really what the average punter is going to understand – can you explain that to your mum?
So I tried to do a search on alltop, I wanted to find Mac news (or feeds, as alltop.com is at it’s base a feed aggregator). I performed this search and my results were not what I expected.
Scanning through this I saw nothing that screamed out “Mac stuff .. in here“. I wasn’t looking for iPhone stuff, nor Mobile, Tech or Podcasts and certainly not Windows. I’m not sure what MacIntosh (Steve) is. I’m looking for Apple Mac items.
So I talked to Guy about this, and he explained it this way (NOTE: I wanted to sketch this cartoon style, but 1) I can’t draw and 2) I can’t draw – well okay I can but I’m lazy this morning – sorry Guy).
Explaining Alltop – Borders style
You walk into your local Borders (or other book store). The clerk says “Hi”, you grunt and say, “I’m looking for Magazines all about Mac’s”.
Now at this point IF the clerk was Google, he (or she) would reply “Well MacWorld has an article on the new iPod Nano and Byte has an article on programming for OS X Carbon while MacUser has some tips for getting more out of photoshop on the Mac”.
alltop.com doesn’t do this, instead the clerk provides you with the racks of magazines, showing you where the Mac type magazines live.
(Note: the pic above is from the matrix if you hadn’t guessed, with racks of stuff flying in to surround you and the store clerk)
You are told this rack has Mac stuff in it. And the clerk wanders off to help someone else. It’s up to you to scan the results and find what it is you are looking for.
Does this work?
Here is where I am torn. On one hand sure the metaphor works … in a bookstore, but I’m not sure it works online. Or should I say, here is where the naming of your “racks” needs to be clear.
For example: alltop.com have a rack of magazines called Windows, where you find various magazines with a Windows theme. Likewise you have a rack called Linux with as you’d expect Linux magazines. Sadly the Mac/Apple rack is called MacIntosh (Steve) and yes this is a joke (try searching for jobs).
Categories need to reflect the general understanding of what a topic is called. Guy mentioned last night “For those who don’t get the joke, we are willing to loose them” – which he might well be, but if you are building something – make sure you name your categories, or racks, or sections, to something that has relevance to your target audience.
Once I get past the search not being a real search – in that it doesn’t search it simply tells you where to look, and once I get past the MacIntosh (Steve) thing, I do think that alltop.com is onto something. I do think it’s the sort of site my Mother (who is a school teacher) would go to and say, “Hmm I need science stuff” and alltop.com is going to say “Great, here is a collection of science related feeds for you to browse and select from”.
Will it miss things out? Yes, as Guy admited, if you are looking for Mac magazines and Byte (which is in Programming) has an article on OS X Carbon development, you are not going to find it in the Mac section – but then, you probably where looking for Programming anyway.