Recently dilbert.com has updated their site introducing a new design, structure and functionality. The site makes use of some very innovative user generated content, such as mash ups an area where users can suggest new punchlines and vote for the best ones.
User generated content can have several advantages, it involves users in the site, means content is frequently changing and can encourage users to promote the site to others. However, it also has a down side in that it can provide the opportunity for those dissatisfied with your brand, site or actions to speak out.
Chevy discovered the negatives of user generated content when they tried to get people to create their own adverts for the Tahoe using video clips and music they had created. People used the clips to bash Chevy and the fuel economy of there vehicles. Although not as extreme, users could be seen using the mash up functionality to criticize the site this week.
A user has used the cartoon above to post the message “Who cares about mash ups? All we want is a simple fast web site to read Dilbert! This new site sucks. Bring back the old web site!!”.
It isn’t uncommon for site redesigns to have some negative responses even if improvements are for the better. Regular users get use to where content is and the design and are put off by change. This is one of the reasons why it is important to manage change, informing users what’s happening, introducing ways to feedback and when possible making incremental changes.
This comment also highlights an important point, just because there is extra web 2.0 features does not mean users are willing to put up with poor performance on key functionality. Why it was decided to display the cartoons on the home page within a flash area is incomprehencible when an image would do much the same job more efficiently. The use of the ‘beta’ will also do little to appease users when they had a perfectly good site before.