David’s Review of Regator.com

Regator is a bite of the blogosphere’s best posts, acting as an aggregation service for the webs best content.

This Review will be conducted in a slightly different manner from my ordinary style. Since I am familiar with this website/service already, I will instead highlight the areas that I believe could pose usability problems, and will also make note of where this site does things very well.

The Front Page

Regator does a lot of things right with their header, but some of their design choices are a bit unconventional. Finding their name or their logo is no problem despite the fact that they are spread out, and the tag line does a nice job explaining what the site does. That said, the tag line may be found more quickly on the left side of the page or under the banner so that there is absolutely no searching for a description of the site.

Most of the emphasis on the site seems to be placed on the search bar, which takes a prominent position in the center of the header directly below the banner. If Regator intends for most people to search for what they’re looking for, they’ve done a great job highlighting this feature.

However, I’d have to assume that at least some viewers are a bit confused about the purpose of the site if they’re first time visitors like I was. How does a website establish trust with it’s first time viewers in the sense that they are linking to the best possible content online? It’s an unusual question for a unique site, but it may be vital to getting new viewers to act.

The rest of the design is put together very nicely. Elements seem to be where they belong with a list of categories on the left, content in the center, and a few additional features in the less looked at parts of the site. The center column acts as an aggregator of the latest, best content from blogs around the web, and is organized fairly well. The finer details in the list items could probably be laid out in an easier to swallow format, but all the essential links and buttons seem to be intact.

Registration

Registration on Regator may be the easiest user registration I’ve ever completed. Why? It took less than 30 seconds, I never loaded a new page, and that includes the fact that I was immediately auto-signed in as soon as registration was complete.

More sign ups should be like this. Ask for the bare minimum, and make it fast.

Here’s the thing: I’m not sure I understand the immediate benefit of registering with Regator when I sign up, so maybe other people don’t either. I can see that I won’t be able to vote, or comment, or save favorites without an account, but there must be something more that separates Regator from sites with similar purpose. Incentive, or a call to action to get people to use the site how you want them to (Registration is wanted I assume) is an important part of this sites usability.

Browsing Regator

I don’t have a whole lot to say about the navigation structure of Regator. It works, and the hierarchy makes sense. That said it feels a bit unpolished in a visual sense. Sometimes navigation text will be larger at the child level than at the parent level, search forms sometimes look like buttons… I guess things just feel a bit jumbled at times when they could perfectly well be presented better.

User Abilities

Most of the Regator user functions seem to be for personal use. Users can save posts they like, and also save blogs they like to quickly group their favorite content from around the web. These saved blogs become a part of “My Regator” which will then aggregate the best content from those blogs into a new stream for an individual user. In a way it features that blogs best content while leaving out the less-than-outstanding posts.

The Problem is that this isn’t explained, it’s just learned.

Users can additionally vote on content they like to promote it (I’m assuming this again, I don’t see it explained anywhere). Commenting is another feature Regator offers, and viewers can find related posts as well.

Interesting Twist on Browsing

One of the interesting things about Regator is that pages never really change after once you’re there. Regator uses AJAX to load nearly all of their content on demand, which works but is not ordinary. This doesn’t hinder the experience at all. Actually the way it’s implemented might give it more of an application feel.

Then again, this navigation idea might also not be noticeable enough to really make any impact on it’s viewers whatsoever.

Possible Improvements

  • This may be one of the first sites we’ve reviewed where there is no explained benefit to using the service. Things all work, but to what purpose should it be used? Maybe that’s something still being decided.
  • The “Search for a Channel” input in the left sidebar doesn’t look like a search form. Also, I’m not sure what a channel is, though I do have the vague idea it may be a category.
  • The tag line may be seen by more people over on the left of the site rather than the right. It’s a pretty good description of the site, but might get lost over on the right.

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