It’s early days, but the team at interest.co.nz must be happy that their new site is now up and running. It’s running on a much better platform so they should be able to tweak it a lot in response to readers.
And tweak they will need to do. Sadly for me the site has taken a giant leap backwards. I enjoyed reading the blog, but now all that lovely content seems to be buried and scattered. Buried in that only the first sentence of an article is directly visible, and scattered in that the content is spread amongst the sections. The scattering shows up interest’s problem – their daily content for each area is thin, while their content itself is rich. So I feel the news site approach is not the best for them. A good case study is Kiwiblog, which releases about the same (and this is a wild guess) number of articles each day.
I like the tagline for interest.co.nz -“helping you make financial decisions”, but the site could do so much more to do so. If I go to, say, the insurance section, then I want to see a combination of general information, widgets that help me select a provider and, say, a mother-in-law guide to insurance clauses. The possibilities are endless.
So this review in pictures is pretty critical – sorry Bernard – but the real work starts now, with constant improvements promised. I’m looking forward to where it is going.
<update – pictures now click through to larger versions>
The Home page leaves me confused to interest.co.nz’s purpose.
News. This was quite disappointing, and where I expected the blog content to be. If I want short snippets of news then I’ll go to Stuff or NZHerald. I come to interest.co.nz for more insights, which is why I’d like to see the words.
Property seemed vacant
Borrowing is all about what could be done in the future
As is saving.
So many obscure terms – I wonder what they mean?
Interest.co.nz should be the definitive guide to NZ financial institutions. It’s not (yet).
That’s often the way with big redesigns that have taken ages to get over the mark. The next 3 months will see a load of updates improvements and hair pulling between the owners and the developers when each party realises the other one wanted something else.
That’s why evolution of a site is so important. So I just hope that this is now a platform from which the evolution can begin. Revolutions are painful and destroy momentum which is why democracy works so well.
Convolution begins now — big step back!
Some good points. It looks a little homemade to me, using a open source CMS. Also the actual text in the news content is no wider than the old website, yet it is a wider formated website. I assume this is so they can have more advertising
You make it sound like it’s the fact that it’s open source that makes it look “homemade”… You realise how dumb that sounds, right?
As a web developer, I can tell you that new sites take a while to bed in – you have to go live with them sometimes before they’re completely stable, because some work can’t be done/tested until the site’s live and under load.
I’d imagine it’s very helpful to have Lance’s assessment of the site, but I suspect the people running the site are already quite aware of the issues and are working on it.
As for the site being open source – here’s some news for you. Drupal (the platform on which this site is built) makes up more than 1% of all websites on the web. That, and WordPress and Joomla, etc. (all open source) account for most of the websites you (or anyone else) visit. Can you name one proprietary web platform that’s growing in use? I can’t.
If it wasn’t for open source (infrastructure and web platforms) there *wouldn’t be a web*.
Dave, I didn’t say it looked homemade, becuase it was using an Open source CMS. I said it looked homemade, AND it uses an open source CMS. Yes I can see it was a drupal site, and that is because it hasn’t been customised enough to prevent it looking like a default template, hence one of the reasons why I think it looks homemade, however that is just a personal opinion. Maybe it has been cusomtised, but I can still see it is a dupal in it.
In terms of navigation, it reminds me of the transition from Office 2003 to 2007 i.e. new users may scrape by but returning users are bound to find it a maze as they’ll assume the new site structure is consistent with the old version. For example, I frequently use the mortgage calculator on the site but today, it took me a few minutes to find this. What used to simply be a link on the splash page is now… a link to sub-section “Calculators”, scroll, scroll, scroll past 6 other links to calculators (all of which look the same) till you arrive at (drum-roll) the “Mortgage calculator”. Yuck.
Many thanks for the review. It made me wince, but you raise some very good points.
Our readers have also pointed out in their first comments here
that they like the simpler chronological ‘bloggy’ format for reading the news articles. We will be changing our News page back to that simpler format of a Headline with one or two paragraphs with a link.
You (and others) also make great points about access to calculators etc from the various internal home pages.
We have an awful lot of work to do. We’ve already done some of it over the weekend. We made some the changes our readers wanted and we’ll be working our butts off over the coming days and weeks responding to what our readers and critics say.
This new platform makes it easier for us to respond and tweak.
Thanks again Lance. I owe you a coffee.
I also welcome the comments from other readers either here or in the link above or directly to email@example.com or @bernardchickey on Twitter.
I heard someone who talked about lean startups saying the best way to develop is to ‘fail early and fail often’. We obviously don’t want to fail, but we do want to develop and tweak and respond as fast as we can. We know it can never be perfect the first time or ever. We do know, however, that we can never be anywhere near perfect unless we continually improve.
We do that by talking with and listening to our audience. The 125 comments so far on that post above are a huge help, as is this post.
Many thanks Lance (I owe you a coffee)
PS We do have a lot to improve, but our initial stats show our traffic has risen 25% above a ‘normal’ period.
We’ll keep working hard.
Is that Page views (you need a lot more to navigate the site now) or UB’s r both Bernard? L
Both. But I take your points on ease of access. We’re working as hard as we can to get back to the blog format on news.
Bernard and Lance
Lance you raised some good points, but Bernard take some with a grain of salt and wait until the rest of your readers chime in. If there was one thing I learnt from all the fine speakers at this year’s Webstock particularly Kevin Rose and again at ConnectNow from Gary V is that yes you should listen to your community and your readers, but understand that any change to the status quo will result in objections and complaints. We get used to a site layout then it changes throwing us out. It’s better to get a version out there and then to listen and iterate – to the demands of the many not the few. And this is what you’re doing. If Zuc from facebook or Kevin Rose or Ev, Biz Stone etc bowed to the every whim their audience wanted, the result would have been the death of them. Listen, weigh, iterate, wisely. And Lance, there’s a page full of recommendations I can send you mate to improve your blog; for one right now I feel like I’m typing in size 2 font.
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