Judging Websites

I was invited to judge the Rails Rumble last year, but was too busy to participate. When they extended the offer again this year, I happily accepted.

This is a companion discussion topic for the original blog entry at: http://www.codinghorror.com/blog/2012/10/judging-websites.html

I imagine even 30 seconds is 15 seconds too long. The landing page has to capture the reader in 15 seconds… and then do the work of converting.

There is currently an issue with comments where only TypePad logins are working (no Twitter, Google, OpenID, etc). I let TypePad know about it and they are working on it.

Edit: now fixed, but it was busted for most of the time this post was at the top of the blog, thus the lack of timely comments. My apologies.

I think a really good example of these points is Method of Action (http://method.ac/). Especially for the unregistered to registered transition.

While I appreciate the sentiment, I don’t think this is a good way to be judging this competition. It’s probably the fault of the organisers, expecting you to look at every single one. They should have split the list between judges or at least had a shortlist.

The reason I take issue with what you’ve said is that you risk missing the point. Someone might have conceived something ingenious but lacked the design skills to make them pop. This way, you seem to have been biased in favour of more attention-grabbing candidates, which is a shame.

Jeff, leave TypePad and set up your own blog platform! :slight_smile:

"yes, deciding in 30 seconds is totally completely unfair, but that’s also exactly how it works in the real world. "

You make a very valid point. You have to catch someone’s attention instantly or risk losing them forever. You can’t count on being able to “explain” yourself if only they scroll a little bit farther along.

This article reminds me of the best book I have ever read on usability - “Dont make me think”. Surely, its all about usability, at the end internet user does not care what extra ordinary technology and coding efforts have been put into a web application.

I guess, most software developers make a strong opinion about any site within first few page of browsing.

I tend to not trust a bad layout site, even if its government affiliated or verisign/other CSA certified. Though everyone may have different opinion about it.

Does the list of apps (screenshot) shows them in random order, or is there any connection between them? I’m asking, because I’m author of last of them. And I hope, that my app didn’t force you to write this post.
Personally I love your book and normally agree with your point of view, but thing that have to be considered here is that there ware only 48 hours to finish apps - and after 48 hours marketing skills go way doooown. + beeing a one man army makes it really difficult to successfully finish an app and write good copy for front page. Which by any means is created almost as last one - because creating working app was the key part there.
Beside that - I totally agree.

Being a one man army myself, getting the home page right has always been the hardest part of any project I’ve tried to conquer. I can’t imagine a 48 hour deadline to get that part right-- as well as having a finished app that can do anything meaningful!

I suppose the winning app was one that was concrete, simple, and easily explained in about 10 secs.

Come to think of it, that’s probably why it’s a lot harder to put together a successful app these days. 10 years ago you could be a multi-jillion dollar startup with the words: “You can upload pics and share them with your friends, maaaaaan”. That hardly impresses anyone nowadays.

I’m currently working on an app that can do your dishes and fold your towels.

So. How many url shorteners were entered into the contest?

I suppose it was only meant as an example, though I can’t help but wonder what “Build your dream furry costume” would be like. Could you give me an elevator pitch for such a site, Jeff?