April 06, 2007 |
A month ago, I took a look at PowerReviews, which at the time was still in private beta. Since then, they've made a lot of changes to the site, changed the name to Buzzillions , and done a soft beta launch, with the big push coming next Tuesday.
In an email to private beta users, Jim Morris, VP of Customer Experience explained many of the changes:
- "too busy, too many links" – We streamlined the home page, reorganized the categories, and made the first impression easier to "get" at a glance.
- "not sure what sets you apart from other sites" – We focused the site more on our Verified Buyer feature (the majority of our reviews come from real buyers). We created a quicker way to shop by offering a summary of ALL reviews without clicking into the product page. In selected categories, you can get product recommendations from "people like you", which we call "Affinity Recommendations". (try Digital Cameras and Men's/Women's Casual Shoes).
- "you didn't have all the products I might be interested in" – We've turned up the dial in getting more products and reviews on the site (50% more products and reviews than January). Our digital camera reviews now rival or surpass those of Amazon.
I'm a bit disappointed in many of the changes, to be honest. While in private beta, the site had a very distinct look to it. It was colorful and friendly. With the relaunch, it looks like a stereotypical Web 2.0 site, with lots of white space and the standard blue/green/gold color scheme (and can someone please point me to the official Web 2.0 color palette everyone sticks to? I'd love to see it).
The new name also seems to have changed to a 2.0-cliche name. Call me old-fashioned, but I like a site to tell me what it does in a simple word. There are so many sites now that use "Buzz" in the title (MegaBuzz and BzzAgent come to mind) that it's no longer clear WHAT buzz even is.
Searching the site now, is impressive. Looking at digital cameras? There are five questions you can answer, adding and deleting features you want, to customize your search. And for just coming out of private beta, they have an impressive number of reviews of the items in their database: 72 reviews for the Canon Rebel XTI Body as compared to 6 reviews on Epinions and 44 on Amazon.
The site is still lacking key product categories like baby products and appliances that are huge draws for consumers looking for advice before they buy, but the user experience is still far and above current product review sites that I've used. The products titles are clean and easy to find (none of the gobbeldygook that Amazon and Epinions seem rife with) and the search criteria are spot-on. i was able to find exactly the digital camera that my husband owns by putting in exactly his criteria for a camera.
I only wish that they'd focused more on the content and less on making themselves one of the crowd for the new look-and-feel.