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3 comments | Monday, December 4, 2006

Notice: You are viewing a post on my old site. Click here to go to the new site.

I stumbled upon this service from a comment on this site, so I decided to give it a go. It's an interesting concept - the site allows visitors to create their own mini-sites, post articles, which are then voted on by the community, similar to Digg, Reddit and others. However, after using it for a while I must conclude that while the site has potential, it also has a really long way to go.

First, let's elaborate on the concept. In Digg, you have categories, which are created by Digg and cannot be changed by the users. On CrispyNews, instead of categories (well, you also have standard categories if you want) you basically have mini web sites created by the users on the CrispyNews subdomain. Every user can make his/her own web site and post articles, and the other users can vote on the article, therefore pushing the article (but also the entire mini-site) up or down in the overall popularity ranking.

Another relatively new concept on the site is AdSpace sharing. Basically, users can put their own ads on the site (for example, Google AdSense) and make money off them, but the owners of CrispyNews also reserve the rights to revoke that privilege in the future or to put up their own ads. This pretty much means the following: the idea is nice for startups and possibly earning a few bucks, but don't expect it to become your main source of income soon.

For testing purposes, I created my own mini-site at franticindustries.crispynews.com. There is quite a bit of options here, for example themes (which you can modify yourself or clone from other users), simple analytics for your site, or multiple administrators for one site. However, it took me a while to find the most basic one - how to create a new post (tip: it's back at your site itself, not the administrator panel).

The site was at times a bit slow, but that's the least of its problems. And those problems can be summed up in two words: lousy GUI. Frankly, the entire site isn't too pleasing for the eye, and it needs much improvement in this area until it can get a wider reception. This goes for all parts of the site: main site, default theme for the mini-sites, administrator panel, everything. When some of the user-created themes are much better than the official, standard layout, it should give you a hint that something's wrong. Case in point: deals.crispynews.com or pandorastations.crispynews.com

The other big problem, which goes hand in hand with the poor design, is the positioning of various elements. In other words, I'm having trouble finding things around here. The site doesn't lack options, but I think those options should be better organized

In conclusion, CrispyNews leaves the impression of a site done by good coders but without the help of a good designer. It does a few things going for it; its unique (as far as I know) features make it an interesting alternative to other social networking sites. I can imagine that many users will love the possibility of making their own site there, earning a few bucks from it, and be a part of a larger, social networking site. However, to succeed it sorely needs improvements in the design department.

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Anonymous Anonymous said...

This is a fantastic idea. The developers deserve credit for thinking of this.

December 6, 2006 at 4:55:00 AM GMT+1

Blogger frantic said...

@anonymous: they do, and I give them full credit, but I still think that they simply must improve the design and layout of the site in order to achieve wider popularity.

December 6, 2006 at 10:52:00 AM GMT+1

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Oh thats pretty cool. Nice concept!

December 22, 2006 at 7:32:00 AM GMT+1


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