The purpose of Sketchplanet (http://www.sketchplanet.com/) is simply allowing a community to sketch and share sketches with each other while using tags and groups to organize the doodles.
I’m going to review this in my ordinary fashion, with my initial experience fully written followed by my suggestions for improvement at the end of the post.
The Front Page
Sketchplanet’s front page is very simple. The banner is immediately visible which clearly displays the name of the site (though no tagline is visible to tell me where I am on first glance). In close proximity to the banner is an interface for drawing “sketches”, but it’s placement suggests that it may just be a graphic. Admittedly, it took me less than 3 seconds to figure out what I was supposed to do, so it does work as a call to action.
The rest of the front page is populated with recent sketches, a brief explanation of the site (which I ignored the first time I loaded the page), and a very discreet navigation menu above the banner. My thoughts almost instantaneously are: Awesome, I’ll sketch something really fast, click the checkmark, and it will be added to SketchPlanet!
For something that seemed like such an easy process, it felt like I slammed into a brick wall when I tried submitting a quick sketch. I predicted some sort of confirmation that my sketch was posted, maybe a quick way to tag it, but instead I was served a registration page.
So I reluctantly register only to discover that my sketch has indeed been lost. Grrrrr.
I’m still of the opinion that the service could do without user registration as a requirement, but I keep going.
If this weren’t a review, there probably wouldn’t be a second try here. I’d suggest a system that allows anonymous postings and then dangles some of the advanced features as perks for registering.
That said, the second time I did try with a user account, I was quite pleased with the system. As soon as I submit a sketch this time, I am presented with options to title, tag, and share my drawing. It’s all very intuitive, and even entertaining.
I browse around the site a bit, draw another quick sketch, and am satisfied with how easy it is. I decide to browse a bit deeper through sketches. First I check Popular Sketches, which unfortunately only has two results. Next I try Tags, which leads me to a page of unordered tags to browse through making them difficult to quickly scan through. Aside from that, browsing through the tags seems simple enough.
The only part of the experience that really made me scratch my head was the thumbs up button located underneath every single sketch on the site. My first thought is that clicking the button adds the sketch to a list of favorites, or the system possible keeps track of how many positive votes a sketch gets.
If it’s either of those two things, I wasn’t able to figure it out even after searching the site for some time. Clicking the button does change it’s state, but there’s no apparent difference anywhere else.
Sketchplanet is a really simple concept. Overall, it worked very well when I gave it a try. I could probably come up with several ideas for new features on the site, but the real purpose of this review is to discuss how well the current system works.
- The registration system works well, but it makes the site very limited to non-registered users. Why not offer a basic service for anonymous users and offer the advanced features (saving your previous sketches, tagging, groups, etc) to registered users?
- The drawing interface blends in almost too well with the banner. Maybe place it just below the banner or use some graphical element to distinguish it from the rest of the banner. The fact that it’s on every page of the site is a convenient touch.
- Alphabetize the tag list to make it easier to scan.
- Explain what the thumbs up icon is for without making the user have to look around the site too much.
And like I mentioned above the site is short on features, but it delivers those features in an easy to understand way.