Snooth Blog

Snooth User: bobbymondavi

Can't Buy Me Love Design.

Posted by bobbymondavi, Sep 20, 2007.

Design and development have long been at odds on the web. It seems there's a digital echo coming from the designer corner: complaints that "developers always screw with and break our designs." And developers are likewise stuck in an infinite recursive loop of cursing their design partners back to their flighty, self-absorbed, and self-righteous 30" monitors.

What does this have to do with wine? Well, nothing I guess. I don't have a 30" monitor. But it has everything to do with building a successful website, a goal to which Snooth is well on its way. The Web is fickle business. Once your site is stuck on the dummy train to template town, it's harder to get off than... well, it's difficult. So you need a plan of attack, and people (both designers and developers, as well as innocent bystanders) with enough tempered mutual respect to know when to defer.

Snooth is very lucky to have assembled a team who've been able to capture that kind of lightning in a bottle and slowly transform it into a great website (we think, inarguably, the best wine website there is, but horn tooting is uncalled for here). But herein lies the catch! You did know there was a catch didn't you?

Development is easy. Design is even easier. But (a) successfully releasing a product can be darn near impossible, and (b) no matter how pixel perfect your site is, your users will inevitably come back to you with a laundry list of the first grade style "but why didn't you do _______?" Releasing your product into the wild is both daunting and humbling, so I personally wanted to take this opportunity in my first Snooth blog post to thank all of our users, all of our blog readers and co-bloggers, and all the wonderful emails we've received - both complimentary and in request of expanded/improved features... we hear you, and we're working on each and every request with due respect.

So what the heck is all this rambling getting to? Well, by popular demand (and frankly, it was in the pipeline from the start anyway) our next major feature release will be a complete overhaul of what's currently called the "my ratings" section. This section is going to become "my wines", and will house everything important to you from the past, present, and future (sounds Sci-Fi eh?). You'll have a one-stop shop for all your past ratings, everything you currently own in your cellar, and anything you've wishlisted on Snooth (yes, that's coming, we promise)!

Much like the Grapevine, which we love and have heard great response to, the MyWines page is sure to bring Snooth to a whole new level. So now is your chance to get in early on the action. If you have ideas for how we might make the central focal point of Snooth (wines) even better, speak now. We wont pay you, but if you send something we use, I might personally buy you love a bottle of wine.


Reply by Philippe, Sep 20, 2007.

Firstly just to say I've looked at all the other sites like this and so far your design is ahead of the pack. To make it even better, here's some suggestions:

- Love the cellar/wishlist feature (much needed). Hopefully the cellar will have a "location" field (ie under the stairs/in the garage etc etc). Hopefully there will be RSS feeds & blog widgets for the cellar & wishlist

- Tags. Not really a fan of the auto generated tags. Like all other web 2.0 sites you should allow me tag my wines how I want and be able to search through my tags, my friends tags and everyone's tags.

- "report an error" for wines by email isn't going to scale very far. how about a wiki style system, with a "report bad edit" function. Most people tend to use wikis in good faith

- Like flickr, allow people to create and moderate their own groups. This will help finding people with common tastes to me.

- In the wine review section, have a suggested food pairings field, and an alcohol % field.

- have a personalised url direct you to your user profile would lead people to my profile & reviews etc

Reply by Philippe, Sep 20, 2007.

- oops just saw the url is there.

- have more rss feeds & make them customisable. (ie I would subscribe to a feed of reviews for say all red wines from bordeaux, or a feed of reviews for all pinot noir wines from california.... get my drift?)

Blog comment by Clint, Sep 21, 2007.

Hi Philippe - thanks for taking the time to write. Those are all very good comments. I'll quickly touch upon them so you know we're on the right track:

1) Cellar/Wishlist will indeed have location fields, and I believe there will be RSS feeds for each as well (which means likely a customizable widget for each also).

2) The auto-generated tags are actually created using a proprietary and very cool algorithm that our developer wrote which takes into account review tags as well. That said, personal tasting notes or multiple reviews (private and public) are also in the pipeline so that will solve your issue here inherently.

3) Not sure what the status of error reporting is, but I'll have someone else get back to you on that!

4) Groups are also in the pipeline, likely the next feature set after the MyWines overhaul. So stay tuned!

5) The RSS feeds are a great tool and we fully intend to take advantage of them in every way possible. Those are some great ideas that we'll definitely look into!

Thanks again for the thoughtful comment. Great feedback!

Reply by Philip James, Sep 21, 2007.

error reporting is about to get an overhaul too! basically, and we may as well spill most of the beans here, users will be able to fill in missing details for a wine - but, one of the things that has set snooth apart is the fact that all this stuff gets moderated. not because people put spam comments in there, but because wine is complicated and people might mix details up - so it will go in place once we get the backend ready.

and again, thanks for the great comments

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