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Wallop and different perspectives on interfaces

Greg, a Seattle tech blogger writes: Not walloped by Wallop.

My favorite quote:

First, I have to admit, I am in no way in their target demographic. I
am too old and boring, and my dating days are way behind me.

I have two random comments about the target demographic of Wallop.

First, one funny thing about the "target demographic" of Wallop, or at least, the demographic for which Wallop has been the most successful, is that much of the userbase is in Mainland China. I’m good friends with one of the backend developers that helped build Wallop, and when they released it, immediately a huge audience converged in China. (Who knows why?) Anyway, just as Orkut eventually gravitated towards Brazil, and Friendster is the most popular in the Phillipines, Wallop had a pretty good presence in China. Now, it’s been spun out now, so who knows if it was all technology or included that user base. They were able to build a large, 6-figure user base for a research project.

Second random comment, from the user interface perspective, Wallop absolutely is confusing. But so is MySpace, and Geocities before that. I think the reason why geeks like me and Greg typically react poorly to these cluttered, messy, non-standard interfaces is that we’re heavy internet users that notice little things. We care about the user interface paradigms that emerge, since it makes it easier to locate and find information. People like us know what Orange buttons that say XML or RSS on them really mean.

But the problem is, I don’t think the vast majority of users care. In fact, many of them like the clutter. Remember that for every ugly MySpace page out there, with flashing icons and moving photo galleries and pink on red text, someone out there spent HOURS customizing that page. I remember that after prototyping a site targeted at 16-24 year old girls involved in social shopping, and showing them mockups with extra cool Google-like whitespace, they said, "Yuck. Too boring." They wanted lots of colors and random stuff in the background.

Anyway, that’s just a long way of saying "I don’t get it either" :)

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