Friendster may have a new look and new owners but behind the rebranding exercise is the same old Friendster, less targeted and error-prone. Case in point is a simple banner that allows members to greet friends and send them gifts in this gift giving season. Yes the ad is in time for Christmas but I guess the placement at the logout page is not ideal.
The message of the ad placed in the logout page (page that appears once you click the logout link) is pretty straightforward, send gift to a friend by clicking on the button below. However, when you click on the button (or everywhere in the banner) it will direct you to a page that asks you to login before you can make use of this feature. What’s more, the error in my screen is suddenly displayed in another language that translates to “Please enter your e-mail address and password”. If Friendster detected that I am in Hong Kong that’s good, but it doesn’t always mean all people in Hong Kong understand what “請輸入你的電郵地址和密碼” means.
At least I understand what “Ooops!” means!
As the page where the banner is found is evident that a Friendster user has this intention to close a session, likelihood of the call to action is considerably lesser than when the banner is placed (and clicked) on pages that require login to access.
Sending gift in real world may require a combination of creative thinking (what does my friend like for a gift?) and sacrifice (I need to deal with a festive crowd, traffic jams and all to buy the gift) to accomplish the task. Definitely, Friendster users can simply login again and it takes much less effort than even dressing up to go to the mall. But within online realm, it’s more about convenience and I guess Friendster can do something more to improve user experience.
Surely the designs are impressive (what impresses me with this new release is the much better resolution of photos and somehow transformation from a dull gray theme) but the improvement should also include user interface because it matters to users. Look at how Facebook users react when it made changes on its layout. If we seldom hear online clamor about Friendster, it may be because a) users ignore them and don’t care at all or b) they are not aware such user experience can be improved. This makes me wonder if Friendster ever employs usability experts to review its website design on top of an army of web designers and programmers.
By looking at the usability issue, Friendster can set an example to advertisers that banners placed on Friendster pages are not only targeted to users, but also require the least amount of effort to achieve.