Ecco USA

Back in January, when the site updates were still daily, I mentioned that I wanted more visitor interactivity and hesitantly asked aloud if I should add comments. Lots of helpful folks took a minute and wrote me, telling me that the comments they had read on similar sites were useless. They were either throw-away back pats or non-constructive, anally-retentive criticisms. So, I pushed the idea aside and went on with my normal updates.

Now, a few months later, I’ve decided to revisit the idea - just not with comments. If you look up at the “site toolbox” where the screenshot and stats reside, you might notice that there is a new tab - Votes. After a lot of thought, I decided that allowing visitors to vote on a restrictive set of criteria would be a good, quick way to collect what everyone thinks about a site. It doesn’t take as much time, thought, or personal information as a comment, and it doesn’t allow folks to spew unhelpful criticism or “Nice job!”everyone to death.

First thing you might have noticed is that you can’t see the results until after you vote. I believe that’s the only way you can be completely unbiased. But, after you place your vote you’ll be able to see how many others have voted, each criteria’s average and an overall average. As well as some fancy bar graphs to help with the visuals.
Another decision I made (more of a compromise really) that some might question is that I log IP addresses instead of using cookies. I made the decision due to the fact that visitors of this site have an above average level of computer competency. You all know how to delete cookies. And so if, with just a little bit of effort, someone knows they can skew the numbers for or against a site, they probably will. Especially if they have some kind of emotional attachment to it. Now, I do realize that several businesses and ISPs use the same outgoing IP address and, yes, that’s an unfortunate side-effect. But, that’s also why you can cast a new vote every 24 hours. Hopefully everyone who wants a chance to vote on a specific site will be able to. Especially since, without comment spamming, there’s no need to disable voting after a certain time.

As far as criteria goes, I think the only questionable one is “Writing.” If you look around at the popularity of blogging, I think it’s clearer than in years past that writing on the web is important. Especially for business sites. Does the site’s language get you interested in the service or product? Is it coherent, confusing, sloppy? Well, now you can make your opinion on that, and five other areas of interest, count.

Whether or not it will actually work as well as I would like it to - we’ll have to see. I personally think it’s an exciting addition and would love to hear what you all think. Now, after all that, I feel like I’ve forgotten something. Oh yeah, the actual feature.