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Review Page overhaul

by andrew152 / August 5, 2010 6:23 PM PDT

I have come to Cnet.com for many product reviews and it has helped me decide on purchases ranging from computer monitors, hd televisions, computer components, wireless house phones, and mp3 players. I value Cnet.com as a resource for easy access to reviews for many of the tech purchases in my life.

However, this recent website overhaul has made what was an easy search for reviews slightly more frustrating. The search function doesn't seem to be changed overmuch so I have no complaints in that department, but when I tried to read a review on a laptop I had found through said search function it took a moment to sift through the large amounts of conflicting information on the review page.

Where once there was a clean tab system to distinguish between the official review, User reviews, and specifications, now there are both tabs for each section and windows within the page displaying parts of the review and the user reviews sections.

This is exacerbated by the nature of the windows. The official review is given less space than the user reviews. It is accepted wisdom among the wise internet shoppers that user reviews must be taken with a grain of salt. Dissatisfied customers post user reviews more often than satisfied customers. The vocal minority, as it were. The purpose of shoppers coming to Cnet.com is for the official review with a breakdown of the product's pros and cons. User reviews can be viewed in greater quantity on shopping sites such as amazon.com and newegg.com. We come to Cnet.com for the detailed and professional information given by the editors.

The presence of ads on the right, while indeed necessary in the context of business models, creates further confusion of information. A border between the information desired by the reader, the review, and the ads would be the best way to organize the webpages.

On the subject of color schemes, the use of light blue as borders between sections as well as selectable links does a poor job of sectioning off the information and displaying links. The contrast of light blue and white is less noticeable than the contrast of red and white. The particular shade of gray used as a background and accent throughout the webpage blends somewhat with the light blue and confuses the eye. Personally, the blue also conflicts with the Cnet.com banner at the top, which consists of Red, Black/dark grey, and White. The blue is an unwelcome conflict of colors. Tabs would be better off being Red like the logo and elsewhere in the site (such as this post-creation page).

This is all my opinion however, and as such may not represent the impressions of the other users of Cnet.com. To ascertain the opinions of the greater userbase, I suggest a survey. I had hoped that the survey I took immediately prior to writing this email would include the possibility of commenting on the new style, but it didn't.

Thank you for reading this, and if you didn't, shame on you.

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Anomalous username
by andrew152 / August 5, 2010 6:29 PM PDT
In reply to: Review Page overhaul

Also, as an interesting and disturbing side note, upon posting the above comment it became apparent that somehow, I was displayed as andrew152. That is not my username, my username is GuardianAngel42. I look up at the top right-hand corner of the webpage and see that I am indeed logged in as GuardianAngel42.

When I attempt to edit my forum profile I get a 502 bad gateway error page. If there is an andrew152 out there, know that I did not intentionally steal your username. Also know that I do not have access to any of your information. I will try to fix this with Cnet.com support.

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RE: Reviews page overhaul...
by John.Wilkinson / August 6, 2010 7:37 AM PDT
In reply to: Review Page overhaul

As a forum moderator and CNET power user, I'd like to reply to your comments.

One of the focuses of the redesign was to better integrate product information, editor reviews, and user reviews, creating a complete picture on the product main page. Much like CNN's highlights section, this enables users to obtain a quick overview and determine if they wish to read more or move onto the next product, without clicking from page to page.

That integration includes displaying user review information prominently on the page in the form of one user review under the editor's review, if there is one. The space allocated to the editor's and user's reviews are equal before expanding one of the reviews, and favors the editor's review once it is expanded as editor reviews are generally much longer. Thus, the 'main' review page is still primarily dedicated to the editor's review. (The old version still displayed user review excerpts, but in the right-hand column.)

Although I agree that the discontent are often the most vocal, which can skew ratings, note that the one user review displayed in full is the one rated by other users as being the most helpful. That helps ensure that the displayed user review is beneficial and closest in league with the editor's review. Although some do not place much stock in user opinions, there is a significant shift toward user-generated content via blogs, forums, comments, etc, and this kind of integration helps users find the alternative takes they're looking for.

Finally, regarding color schemes, each site within CNET is differentiated by color scheme. Downloads, for instance, uses green, Reviews uses blue, News uses red, and CNET (main) uses yellow. The color schemes are reflected in the headers, via both hues and borders. This was part of the redesign of 2007 and has been carried throughout CNET ever since, so that suggestion would have been best made three years ago. The main difference in this Reviews redesign is that the divisions between sections are 22px thick with the description in the divider instead of 3px think and the description atop the divider. The colors themselves have remained exactly the same, and the styling change makes the divisions between sections more pronounced.

These redesign decisions were not made hastily, with weeks of users being invited to CNET so that their usage of the site could be studied and their suggestions could be investigated. Once the new design was created, thousands of users from around the world were randomly selected and displayed the redesigned pages, all of whom had the opportunity to complete surveys and offer their suggestions before the redesign was completed a couple weeks ago.

You may prefer the old look, but the majority of users overwhelmingly preferred the new design, which will remain the layout for some time to come. You're always welcome to make suggestions, though, which may be included in minor tweaks as well as future redesigns down the road. In the interim, I hope you come to appreciate the user-centered nature of the new Reviews pages.

Regards,
John


P.S. The username issue is well known and is documented in the forum sticky. I'm submitting an alert on your behalf.

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Thank you for the Reply
by andrew152 / August 6, 2010 8:22 AM PDT

I appreciate that there was research done on the subject of site overhaul, I would like to comment that should users desire user reviews they can be immediately reached from the search page. Conversely, from the search page I cannot go directly to the editor review. If I click on the red stars I am directed to the conglomeration page from which I have to click on the expand full review page.

This displays an imbalance of priorities. The User-generated content trend may in fact be more prominent, but should someone wish to read the review only and not read the user reviews it should not be harder than it is to read the user reviews. I believe they should be equally easy to get to.

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I see what you're saying...
by John.Wilkinson / August 6, 2010 9:19 AM PDT

Clicking the red stars take you to the editor's review page, but you have to click to expand it. Clicking on the blue stars take you to the user's review page, which needs not be clicked to expand. That should actually be an easy change since the ability to provide a link that auto-expands the editor's review already exists. I'll see if this can be tweaked so the red stars automatically expand the review while the main link in the search results does not, highlighting the entire page. No guarantees, but we'll see.

Regards,
John

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Thank you
by andrew152 / August 9, 2010 5:30 PM PDT

Thank you, I appreciate it. I didn't mean to sound rude but it seemed that I did from the tone of your original reply. I just meant to convey my feelings of the page change in as detailed a manner as possible.

I appreciate your receptiveness to my main complaint.

Thanks again,

Sean (not andrew)

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