“Lloyd Davis’ recent post “Why I’m not in Seesmic at the moment” sums up a lot of my discontent with Seesmic, although I’ll save my proper rant about it for another day when I’m more angsty.”
So I promised that I would write about why I thought Seesmic was crap. Here we go.
Hm, where do I start. Ah, the beginning: the log in screen. So you go to Seesmic and decide to sign up to be an alpha tester. Only, you never get any email confirmation of this, and nothing ever happens. I know this as I tried to sign up for a seperate work one even though I had a personal account. I’d like the two to be different, so why not. It’s a small thing, but it’s the start of a bigger picture: lack of customer support.
So, you’ve managed to get an invite and you log in. Only, you can’t because you’ve forgotten your password. That’s okay, you can just do like any other site and click forgotten password, right? Wrong. There is no forgotten password option. This is like web 0.5 let alone web 2.0. So you write to the team who then re-supply you with your password. My password is kkWMYQIlhoijlFXt4m71, and you can’t change it. Well at least it’s a memorable one then.. (!)
So you go back with your new password, and try to login. Only, again, you can’t. Wtf? Oh, you’ve spelt your Username With A Capital. Nope, that won’t do, as the username is case sensitive. Er, what? Who built this thing?
So, you’ve spelt your name all lowercase, you’ve put in your insanely unrememberable password, and you’re finally in to your account. Wahey. Oop, no, you’re stuck on the loading screen. Yep, it’s crashed, great. I guess that’ll be the memory leak that seems to happen about 1 in 5 times when I was logged in. When I managed to get logged in, of course.
Okay, you’ve refreshed, you’ve logged on, and we’re in.
You’re greeted with a teenagers bedroom. Okay, maybe not, heh, if that’s what it was it would no doubt be incredibly successful. Sadly I mean dark, dingy and depressing:
The site only accepts videos as flv’s, or you can import any video you like form YouTube. Posting a video from YouTube does seem to rather detract from the actual point of what Seesmic is, but hey ho. And why only flv’s?
Recording a video via the website is straightforward, and it goes onto the site pretty quick, which is good. Seeing as the whole point is having a conversation, I’m glad that bit works well. Unless of course you decide half way through you’d rather not record a video, and you’d rather watch some more of others. You click the logo in the top left, don’t you. Why not, that’s been usability step 1 for as long as I can remember. Nope, it’s a flat image, no link. Hm. Try pressing the back button on your browser. Oh. Of course. The whole site is in flash so now you’ve gone and been logged out. Good luck getting back in.
So you’re getting stuck into having your conversations, but oop – life calls, you’ve got to go out for the rest of the day and won’t be checking Seesmic until at least the next evening. Oh dear. That means if anyone answers you, you’ll never know! When I was using it in December (it may be different now) the movies were only kept for about 8 hrs max. So there goes your new buddy, who now thinks you’re ignoring them. There’s no way of being pinged when someone responds to you either, unless you’re on Twitter and they happen to ping it to Twitter, and you’re following them on Twitter, and you notice their Twitter ping. So, so useful.
Aha! No, wait, I know, I’ll add them as a Seesmic friend, then I can store them in my friends timeline and catch up with them when I’m back, and see what they’ve been up to. Cool. Except, now I’ve got one friend who’s posting 20 vids an hour talking to someone I don’t know about something I don’t care about. Okay, no worries, I’ll delete that person so I can catch up on the other vids. Oh, there’s no friend delete option. Balls. I’m stuck.
By now, I’m thinking these guys need some help. Off I trot to do my feedback posting, and point out some defects and feature requirements. Yep you’ve guessed it, after a week still not even had an email acknowledgement. Glad I spent my time doing that then. Even now, a month later, I’ve heard nowt.
Eventually after about two weeks of play, I’m bored. I give up. The system crashes frequently, the interface and more importantly functionailty sucks a phat one, I can’t keep up on conversations I find interesting and wading through 3 or more minutes of someone talking bullshit about something to find out if it’s going to be interesting just isn’t worth my time at all.
If this was something that came out of an idea with no backing and was being developed by someone in their bedroom, I wouldn’t be having such a pop. However, we’re talking about a heavily backed and funded company here. I expect more, much more.
As a concept, it intrigued me, but the execution is appalling. It’s put me right off. It’s taken what could have been a great idea and then bogged it down with bad usability, poor functionality and for a site that gets all it’s content for users, it really should attempt giving at least some commentry back when feedback is given.
Which brings me nicely onto The Other Thing. I am really tired of helping startups with testing, feedback, and well, anything else I can offer only to have no thanks back at all. Nothing.
In the last month I have passed a PHP developer to a startup, and didn’t even get an email acknowledgement. A guy I met at OpenCoffee who shall remain nameless, was looking for staff. I called a friend, passed on his CV, and found out from my mate he had then been employed there. Not even a thanks for the email, a hi – let me buy you a coffee, nothing.
Then there’s the company I offered to assist with testing, and spent 2 hours going over their editorial copy on a Sunday to help get them ready for launch. Again, no thank you note, but I do have a request in my inbox to help them find some staff. Ahuh. Sure. Ya think?
And then there’s Seesmic, who can’t even ping an automated email to let me know either my interest in their site is kindly received, or my feedback was useful to them.
Bottom line on the Other Thing: if you’ve got a startup, by all means ask people for help. Most of us (including me) love doing it. But for God’s sake make sure you at least thank the people who are giving you unpaid labour. It’s just polite, and is the least you can do.