Advantages Lots of great new features! Bugs being fixed without down-time
Disadvantages Takes a while to get used to
|Layout & Design|
|How fast is this website?|
|Quality of the Content|
|Security & Privacy Statement|
|Choice of Earnings|
|Customer Service Support|
We've had three days with the new-look Ciao, and although it still seems a little unfamiliar to me, I thought I'd outline my first impressions. On the whole, I like it very much. I've divided this into good points (several), not-so-good points (a couple), and bugs (which I've reported, and assume will be fixed). All comments will be welcome!~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ THE GOOD POINTS ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
• General layout •Personally, I love the new 'look'. Gone is the garish orange, and it's replaced by pleasant pastels, mostly blues and greens. More importantly, Ciao feels as if it's been designed by someone who knows what people want from a web-site in the 21st century. The old one had plenty of features, and help on many topics if we knew where to look - but I found it quite muddling, particularly when I was new.
The new Ciao, however, has consumer information on the 'home' page, and all the features and help that members could want on the Community page (now called 'member centre'). The old Ciao felt as if various pages and extra features had been added sporadically, when needed, meaning that some of them didn't quite fit in, and there wasn't always a logical way to find specific help or information. The new one has been carefully planned. The old Community Page was a real muddle; the new member centre with its simple text links leads us easily to whatever information we want.• Rapid searching •
The search engine was always good on Ciao (certainly when compared to other consumer sites) but since the new design, it's seemed even faster and more effective than before. For consumers, this is a great advantage, and it also reduces irritation for members when trying to find what products are available for reviewing.• New-in lists •
One problem with the old Ciao was that the 'new in' lists only covered 20 products. Since some people read mainly from these lists, it meant that on a busy day a review might only stay on the main 'all products' list for half an hour or less, meaning that it could easily be missed. Now we can read up to 100 new reviews, either generally or in particular categories.I'm glad to see that the review archive remains, as useful as ever, and there is also a 'diamond' archive, meaning that we can browse through the best opinions written over the years, for inspiration and help in improving our own writing. On the old Ciao, it was only ever possible to read the most recent month's diamond reviews.
There's also a 'new product' list, something which I've seen on a rival consumer site, and which was lacking in the old Ciao. While Ciao does inform people by email when a product they've requested becomes listed, it's very useful to see what else has been added in recent days.• Changes to submitting opinions •
I like the new statement we need to click, to say that we're writing from our own experience. This should at least discourage plagiarism.I also very much like the ability to save something as a draft, for future use, and even more the ability to preview and edit before actually submitting. This means we can check our layout, and make any minor changes before it's seen by anyone else.
• Uploading photos to reviews •What a great feature this is! I love the idea of being able to upload photographs to add to our opinions, particularly when describing places we've been, or larger items such as cars or household appliances. I've tried this on one of my opinions (the one about St Andrews, if anyone's interested) and succeeded easily in uploading a photograph from my computer - despite being something of a techno-numpty. If I can do it, anyone can!
• New payment rates •Rather than having an ugly mustard-coloured band through paying categories, as on the old Ciao, there are now little pound signs attached to paying products, and a graded rate of payment which will change monthly. One pound sign means a product will pay 0.5p per read, two signs means it will pay 1p per read, and three signs means it will pay 2p per read. Even better, if we write the first review on any product, then that will receive double the going rate for that item.
While this is admittedly somewhat more confusing than the old Ciao's simple penny-per-read for some categories, this is far better from the consumer point of view. Firstly, more important items such as appliances receive higher payment than less significant items, meaning that there is less incentive to churn out dozens of opinions on insignificant products. Secondly, it's much better to have a few opinions on hundreds of products than hundreds of opinions on a few products. No consumer is likely to read more than the first five or six reviews (at most). Double payment for new reviews means much more incentive both to ask for new products to be added, and to write in new categories rather than the same old ones.I also note that we no longer get paid per actual read, but per positive rating. That will encourage better writing, will ensure that plagiarists and churners of 120-word opinions don't get anything at all, and should also encourage people to see that 'helpful' is a good rating - since anything of 'helpful' or above is considered payable.
• Personal profiles •There is a great deal more available in our profiles than there was in the old Ciao. Firstly, the statistics are much more comprehensive, for anyone who likes numbers of that sort, showing us at a glance much more than we could see previously. I'm also delighted to see that we can now access all comments we've written on any product, as well as all comments we've recieved, via the statistics page.
I also like the fact that 15 reviews are shown on each page rather than 10, meaning that there are more obvious most recent ones for people to look at. I like too the fact that we're now writing 'reviews' rather than 'opinions', which perhaps will discourage the use of that horrible abbreviation 'op'! The personal page is much easier to personalise now, with the addition of an HTML 'wizard' which can guide us through a couple of basic styles of page - while those who are competent in HTML can still set up their own pages however they wish.The account page is much more comprehensive too, with far more detail about how we've achieved our various earnings.
Then there's the facility to list ebay auctions, the option of saving 'favourite' reviews for future reference, a private guestbook in addition to the public one (with the ability to delete guestbook messages if we choose), and a far more comprehensive set of questions about our consumer preferences, to help us receive more appropriate surveys via email.Finally, I'm delighted to find that if I want to edit the simple 'about me' that is attached to my profile, it's a single item to edit, rather than having to click through several pages of consumer preferences too!
• Brief profile attached to reviews •I like seeing the basic member profile information next to each review that's written, as well as photographs when uploaded (and yes, it's inspiring me to get a photograph taken at last which I too can upload!)
• New ratings •I do like the two new ratings: firstly 'Off topic' for a review that isn't in the right place, no matter how helpful it might be as a review. This should encourage people to be more careful about where they place their reviews, or at least to get them moved as quickly as possible. I hope it will also alert Ciao to reviews written in the wrong place.
Secondly the 'Exceptional' rating is a great idea, allowing easy nomination for the Premium Fund, and pinpointing the very cream of the 'very helpful' opinions.• Fewer adverts •
Best of all, in my opinion, is the lack of intrusive adverts with the new Ciao! On the old version, I had animated advertisements on the right-hand side of each page, which were distracting at best, and off-putting at times - particularly one which was about eliminating viruses from the computer, and which featured silhouettes of cockroaches .So while there are still relevant text adverts for sites such as Ebay, and other places that sell products, I'm delighted that the graphical adverts seem to have disappeared completely.
• Profiles page again •
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ THE NOT-SO-GOOD POINTS ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
Despite the good points, the profile pages are a bit too spread out for my liking.I didn't really like the fact that when I clicked 'My Ciao', I was taken to my settings page, rather than my reviews page.
~~~ But - this was changed, perhaps because so many people requested it, and we're now taken directly to our reviews.I also think it's a pity that the guestbook is no longer attached to the personalised 'home page'. With the new easy design system, it seems a pity if hardly anyone ever goes to see them!
I had understood from the 'help' pages that we should now also be informed which of our reviews earn non-diamond payments in the Premium Fund. In the old Ciao it was very frustrating having no idea which opinions received lower awards, nice though it was to get them!~~~ However, now that the October Premium Fund has been distributed, I see that the link merely leads to an old list of diamond awards, with no further indication about which reviews received the smaller payments. So I'm moving this to the 'not-so-good points'!
• League tables •I've never really seen the point of these (except, perhaps for newcomers to try and learn who are the longest-standing members) but they seem to be here to stay. Ciao has got rid of the most pointless one (the 'most-trusted' members since the launch) and have included a new one (most-read opinions since the launch) which was interesting to skim through, but which is unlikely to change much. I rarely look at the league tables anyway, and have heard many complaints about them (since they rather encourage churning) but apparently they're not being deleted. Oh well.
These are what I discovered (and reported) so far... and kudos to the Ciao team for getting them fixed speedily!
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ BUGS ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
• Comments •There was a problem whereby the comments links on our reviews page didn't work if we were logged in. Slightly stranger, and a bit more irritating, is that we could not read or write comments on anyone else's reviews if they were written in a category in which we've already written.
~~~ BUT... this was fixed, Monday 1st December, without any apparent down-time!• Strange browsing results •
In my browsing, I've found some places where a search will produce more than one identical item, and others (particularly in books) where some products weren't named at all. For instance, I looked for the author 'Charlotte Bingham', and found that although eleven books were listed under her name, only eight of them had titles, and I couldn't find one which I did manage to find by searching for the title!~~~ This also seems to be fixed (at least, as far as Charlotte Bingham goes, though I'm still getting some strange duplicates for other products) on Dec 1st.
• Exceptional rating quirks •We're only supposed to be allowed to rate 'Exceptional' twice per day, but I gather that people have succeeded in doing so more than twice. I would actually prefer to see up to five 'Exceptional's allowed per day, and hope they'll change this. More significantly, we're told to write a comment if a review has not previously been rated 'Exceptional', but when I've rated this way, I'm told the same thing even if it's already had more than one similar rating. It's also a bit annoying having to write a comment first, because then I have to read the review all over again before rating (or at least wait a minute or so) otherwise Ciao will tell me I haven't read it!
• Strange dates •A very minor point, and one which should be simple to fix - on dates such as 3rd November, reviews claimed to have been written on the '3th' November.
~~~ This was also fixed on Monday 1st December.• Alerts •
Although I seem to be getting the alerts I want on new reviews, comments and guestbook entries (they were a little sluggish at first) - the guestbook ones don't lead to the correct place, since they try to access the old 'extended review' page.~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ CONCLUSION ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
Although it's taken me a while to get used to it, being someone who doesn't like changes, I'm very impressed. It worked well almost immmediately, and a couple of bugs were fixed almost immediately.So - if you're reading this, Ciao staff - my congratulations on a brilliant new concept and design!
Attention, this is the first review from this author
Instead of giving a negative rating, consider:
Help this member by giving your advice
Report fraud (for example plagiarism) or other issue with the review to the Ciao support team
Add your comment