WebJam.com is a website that allows anyone to create their own social network. It targets several kinds of users including individuals (personal) and larger organizations and brands.
The Front Page
The front page of WebJam gives me high hopes for the site on first glance. It looks very nicely designed…something that was probably recently done. The first thing notice is “Social Networks made easy” and the “Free” plan:
I sort of breeze through the descriptions of the service and gather that I can create my own social network. I can share my blogs, media, and customize my page. Sounds interesting. There is a video a bit further down the page that looks like it explains the service. I opt in to watching that rather than read the details.
I’m not sold on the idea of registering a WebJam based on the video. The actual quality of the video is a bit lower than I anticipated based on the design of the front page—there are infrequent pauses during talking, and noises in the background which suggest to me that this may not be a really high quality service. This isn’t what makes me hesitate so much as the actual explanation of WebJam though.
From the looks of things, WebJam is simply another social network like Xanga, MySpace, or Facebook (I’m pretty confident after the review that I’ve misunderstood the purpose of the service). I can create a personal precense on the web for free in a layout reminiscent of several other social networking websites. The most obvious question to me is “Why should I use WebJam instead of Facebook or MySpace?” This question is not answered in the video.
Registering an account is simple enough with WebJam. It’s a two-step process and I never leave the front page of the site the whole time. Once it’s completed, I am redirected to my new…profile page (?)
I just continue under the presumption that this is my WebJam profile (I later find out that a “WebJam” is not really the same thing as a profile page), and begin editing. As a designer and developer, I find it incredibly easy to make simple changes to the look and feel of my WebJam. Pretty much anything can be customized through the use of CSS, but I simply make simple changes such as colors and background.
The interface for editing the styles is not a very user friendly interface, but it works for me. There are a whole lot of options, whereas I prefer simple interfaces.
After tinkering with the design for a while, I have a a layout that feels nice to me. The features to edit my layout are nice, but nothing that makes this service worth registering. It enhances the service, but I’m still trying to figure out what exactly the benefit of using this service is in the first place.
Finding a Friend
One of the things that drives me to a social site in the first place is when my friends all use the service. This isn’t the case with WebJam, but I do know my UX Booth buds have hopped on. I look around to see how I add them as friends, but miss the search at the top of the site (there’s no input field by default, you need to click an icon to show it.), but I find one at the bottom of the site. I guess that it will work for finding friends though I’m not confident it will based on the fact that it’s labled as a Google Search.
Turns out that I can find other users by search here, but the results feel a bit cluttered like many other parts of WebJam. All results are shown by default, with different icons for each kind of result which just adds a lot of noise to the page (See our blog post on effective search results pages for examples of really nice search results). The Search bar is centered but the results are all aligned left, and they do not align up with each other. Thankfully I can organize the results by type, and I find my friends pretty easily. When I try clicking a friend, the link breaks though. I troubleshoot and find out that the link includes one to many http://‘s.
What’s the purpose?
As someone who’s pretty tech savvy and has used similar interfaces over the years, I didn’t have trouble with customization of my profile. It worked alright for me.
Beyond that, I’m just lost on the purpose here. Why would this service be of any benefit to me as an individual user. I don’t feel like WebJam is communicating the idea of the service with me effectively.
I did some digging around the site after the test to get a better understanding of what the service actually does, and learned all sorts of useful things. WebJam allows companies and organizations to create their own social communities like their own branded, miniature MySpace or Facebook (at least, this is my understanding of it). This was not how I understood the service when I started using it—I thought the entire point of a WebJam was going to be more or less the same as MySpace.
In short, the front page of this site failed to clearly illustrate the idea of WebJam for me as a personal user. Actually, I’m not sure if I still understand why I should have a WebJam right now, there is just too much going on. It seems like a useful product for some organizations, but I’m even confused about that side of WebJam.
To say the least, I don’t think I used WebJam the way it was intended to be used. My review is cut short because I honestly don’t understand what I should be doing here, there are just some fundamental questions not being answered for me, the user. WebJam works, but doesn’t communicate purpose to me.
- Tell me why I should use WebJam with simple explanations. “Create your own Social Networking Website” means two things to me: Am I building the next MySpace, or am I making a profile page on WebJam which is a social network like MySpace?
- Many of the interface details feel congested and cluttered once signed into WebJam. With these sorts of applications, I am used to larger buttons that don’t require explanation, and navigation that is very simple. There is way to much going on inside the dashboard here.
- The front page and central dashboard (WebJam Homepage? when signed in of WebJam Feels pretty good. Why can’t the rest of the site feel like this? Heck, I still don’t know how I get to my dashboard to see my personal updates without signing out and signing back in.
- Many of the links on WebJam open up in a box (lightbox?) rather than a new page. It’s neat, but more often than not confuses me when I try to open a link in a new tab and it shows an unstyled page.
- Answer my questions: Are my friends here? Why should I use this instead of MySpace? What benefit will I have by using this service? You don’t have to be blatant about it, but at least give me something to help me understand why I’m here.