Tonight I got an invitation to my alma mater's new online alumni community. If you're not a UVic alumni, there isn't much there for you. And even then, you have to remember your student number. Do you remember yours? Despite my shoddy memory, I still remember mine. Here's a screenshot of the home page. As a frequent user and increasingly-regular creator of online communities, I thought I'd check it out. To be brief, it sure ain't Flickr. Its design is incredibly staid, and its choice of features is pretty peculiar. Why have a whole tab dedicated to sharing travel advice among alumni? Is that really a top-five priority for this kind of site.
They've got a section called blogs which is actually just a bunch of kludged forums (no RSS feeds in sight). That's emblematic of the implementation--a bit goofy and with little concern for the user.
Here's the part that made me laugh, though, because it's a classic. In both the email and on the site's home page, they say:
We look forward to hearing your suggestions and comments on how we can make it better for you.
But they offer no indication of how to give that feedback. Surely, if they were really keen on comments and suggestions, they'd actually instruct the users how to provide them.
It's a classic because they give the appearance of being customer-focused without actually do so.