Feature: General Functionality & Features

What are the basic calling cards of this product?

Notes below about CheckThis, Marquee, Medium, Smore, and Tackk.

CheckThis

A Poster
It is interesting to note that CheckThis has gone through a recent round of simplification. Where they used to guide the user through a choice of “Ask, Tell, ...” they now simply invite the user to create. Then, as the user creates, some coaching is introduced. Before the users edits a page a subdued gray couple paragraphs of sales pitch/coaching about features you might want to use occupies the eventual place of their text. A couple minutes of typing an one picture upload can result in a poster like this. My only concern with the result is the loud social bar at the bottom (it does not obey the design choice to make blocks transparent) and the real estate devoted to the top CheckThis bar and the bottom “Powered by checkthis” administrivia. I noticed that within five minutes this poster had attracted seven views.
Comments Expanded
Posters are allowed to attract comments from users. Comments can be left with a simple email address (even a fake one) as an identifier, or with linked Twitter, Facebook, Google Plus, or Disqus accounts. If you leave a simple email you are invited to register it with Disqus to get history and notification features for comments.

This comments block also expands to pretty much take over the poster page and turn it into a CheckThis community page. Here you can follow discussions happening on other posters and top users of CheckThis. This feels like a pretty clever and stealthy way to draw people into the community.

Marquee

Dropbox Integration
The most unusual feature of Marquee is its integration of Dropbox. You can link your Dropbox account to your Marquee account and then incorporate files from Dropbox on your Marquee page without uploading them from your current machine.

If you are logged into an account, then the homepage redirects you to your account page. You are the center of Marquee’s universe.

Medium

Virtually none for the masses. Not even changes to the “Your text here” or image on the front page get saved. All you can do with a twitter sign-in is read and leave feedback on Medium content others have created.

However, the manifesto makes clear that Medium is meant to be a platform for collection and curation. It does not seem to be geared at single-idea presentation.

Smore

Guide
Smore is using a guided process to page-building. Clicking on the “Start a new flyer” button on the homepage presents a menu of choices in a modal dialog box. You have to decide the mission of your flyer: event invitation, product, personal, business, informational, app, or other. You can also click a “Start from blank” button. Clicking one of the choices takes you to a template for that kind of page. Since the template can be rearranged, in a way it does not matter which type of flyer you choose up front, but the templates are pretty heavy, with lots going on, so it is easy to get overwhelmed if you make the wrong pick at the top. If you choose “other” then Smore asks you to describe what you are making before you start from a blank page. Presumably this helps them discover what other templates might be helpful to produce, but it also presents one more hurdle to getting started.
Guidance continues
The guidance continues even once the template is presented, walking you to the first element on the page and suggesting you click on it to edit. After that click, you are left on your own.

Editing itself is very modal. Instead of editing text in place, a modal dialog is presented with fields for each item to be edited (title & subtitle or title & text or URL) and a button to submit the data. There is an “Add Content” button at the bottom to let you add new modules (text, title, embed link, video, audio, picture, event, gallery, and bio). The embed link in particular seems misnamed since it only takes a URL and presents it as an address rather trying to retrieve and embed its contents.

Your flyer is saved as you go, though a placebo “Save now” button is also presented. This creates some confusion since there is also an “Update” button in the editor.

Tackk

Starter
The “starter” tab actually pulls up the sales pitch for Tackk. This is more of an “about Tackk” than an actual aid to starting anything, since the tackk is already present, editable, and started.

The “theme” tab presents a helpful list of templates for a new tackk. These templates are based on tasks: anything, events, housing, for sale, announce, and business. The term “theme,” which is used broadly on web services to refer to the “skinning” of content so that it looks different, implies that making a choice here would layer a new look over existing content. But this is not what happens. If content of the tackk has already been edited, then picking a “theme” provides an opportunity to start a new tackk with that template. The warning given in this case is especially cryptic (“edit ... by remember the link”?).

The “feedback + support” tab brings up a modal window with “uservoice” content. This provides a good sense that user feedback is heard and weighed by the Tackk team.

More “stuff” can be added to a tackk by clicking the “add more stuff” button or by choosing from the “features” section of the floating “editor”. While I can guess as to the technical reason for this differentiation, I found it confusing that some content can be added as “more stuff” and others as “features.” It also took me a long time to figure out that the way to get rid of a map added via “features” was to go back to “features” and click on “maps” again. Also, though the word “maps” is plural, there seems to be no way to put more than one map on a tackk.

Tackk generously provides a “Tackk it Up” advertisement on my own tackk that I must proactively delete to be rid of.

Comments

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Dan / 26 June 2013 / 19:56

We want to take a trip up there so bad! I love the little palces you stayed in, I will definitely have to look that up! (I believe you are also the one that got me hooked on vrbo.com, so thanks for upgrading my travel daydreams!)

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Eric Celeste / Saint Paul, Minnesota / 651.323.2009 / efc@clst.org