Friday, December 16, 2005

Squidoo's success and failure

Seth Godin has come up with an interesting idea with Squidoo.

The company, whose slogan is "Everyone's an expert on something," allows users to view and create 'lenses', each a single page devoted to a single topic. For example, Seth created What you need (okay, want) to know about Seth Godin. The second concept behind Squidoo, is chunking. "The best lenses divide the world into tiny bite-sized chunks. A long long list of links (which is what most web pages that fashion themselves as lenses contain) is completely useless to the average human. The goal here, remember, is not completeness, it’s to give me a toehold."

As much as I wanted to like Squidoo, I think it has some fundamental design flaws.

One of the argued advantages of Squidoo over a topical blog is that blogs put the most recent posts front and center. This is great if you are a recurring reader (though in that case you are probably getting the blog on RSS anyway), but may not be such a hot thing for readers who are new to the site. First because you may be expanding on a previously introduced idea, and secondly because your most recent post may not be your best post. To solve this problem, Squidoo offers a design which is fundamentally static; there is no expectation of new material except perhaps as information changes or becomes out of date. This solution creates a new problem, however; there is no new information, and therefore less tendency for readers to return!

A better solution is to offer links to featured posts either at the top of the page or in a sidebar. This offers a combination of the newness of blogs with the introduction of a static page like Squidoo.

If Blogger ever improves their service, you may be certain to find "featured posts" here.

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