Getting to grips with ZSpace… or not

Well, morning all.

Here goes my second attempt at adding content to ZSpace. I mentioned in my earlier post that I’ll be including comments on what I consider ZSpace ‘bugs’ or, shall we say, ‘quirks’ in [ ]. As it turns out, today’s experiments are turning into a full on set of Qs for the FAQ, if one exists.

[So, how does one add custom content to that menu over there on the left? The one that’s second from top… the yellow one. I can find the quick edit, but I’d like to be able to use the full editor over there too. Must be a way…

I was going to add some quotes using the ‘Quotation’ option, but it’s a pain in the butt. What’s with all the categories? Why no meta tagging? Where’s the database that’s refered to?

Why doesn’t hitting ‘enter’ in this editor just act like a ‘line-feed’ but as a paragraph tag?

Why are all the things I add with the "Add Favourite" button called ‘Preferences’? Surely they are ‘Favourites’… ‘preferences’ should be choices I make that effect the functionality or appeearance of my ZSpace. Confused me for a while there.

Where’s the spell checker?]

Ok, I’m going to take a shot at responding to that Z Sustainer message, "please relate or reply…." of Feb 18th.

Dear Mike and Chris.

First off, my hat off to you for what you’ve managed to bring together over here. Very impressive, and extremely useful. Thank you. I write to you here as webmaster of a somewhat smaller community than yours, but one which has been through a similar phase as ZCom finds itself in, wondering why users don’t get more involved.

You mentioned in your email, 4 possible reasons that more people weren’t using ZSpace to it’s full potential. I think you’ve missed the 5th and IMHO most likely reason. Too many seams. Let me try and explain. You know the phrase ‘seamless’. It means that things can be done on the fly, as it were, without having to stop what you’re doing to concentrate on something which is secondary to your main purpose in being here. Namely, reading.

I’d hazard a guess that 99% of your membership are here just to keep up on current events and read opinions on them from their favourite authors. Most are probably not authors. Most are probably not webmasters. If your goal is to motivate these users to make more use of the tools available, I think you’ll need to either simplify the way people interact with them, or offer ‘regular’ and ‘advanced’ options somewhere.

ZSpace’s "Add Favourite" button is an example of seamlessness, but I’d hazard a guess that I’m not the only one who thought for the longest time that it was a button designed to add a bookmark to my browser, not my ZSpace. Change it to the same color as that area of Z com (not gray) and lose the yellow star (which many people assume indicates bookmarks).

I also see a contradiction in, or maybe confussion about, what you’re trying to offer here at ZSpace. There’s the ‘Social Network’ thing, and then again, there’s ‘Blogs’. They’re different, and don’t go too well together. Not saying that it’s impossible, or undesireable, but some serious thought into the usability needs undertaking.

A blog is a very personal thing, and bloggers spend hours and hours tweaking the layout and appearance of their own little corner of the nanosphere. Many probably spend more time doing this than adding unique content. Certainly at first. ZSpace doesn’t offer this ‘customization’ functionality, and so the appeal factor is reduced. Actually, while I’m at it, what on earth inspired the choice of gray as the predominant color here? Yuk!

The Social Networking functionality needs to be the seamless part that I mentioned above, and the vast lists of options over in the left menu that I’m looking at as I type this, would be enough to make me run away screaming… if I weren’t  webmaster of my own sites, that is. Why, for example, as I type my blog, do I need to see options for everything from "Featured Boxes" down to "My Poems"?

So, what I’m saying is, maybe ZCom needs to rethink it’s user back-end integration and presentation, even having done that, I beleive you’ll be lucky to get much more than 10% of your users to use the full functionality of the site seeing that it tries to attract such a wide range of visitors. Readers. Writers. Bloggers and people looking to network.

All that was, of course, just my personal opinion, and is in no way meant to belittle what you have already achieved. I, for one, think that I’ll be making more use of the tools here from now on.



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