(WARNING: This is a lengthy review) — Final Edition
This is the continuation of the first part of my review on Advertlets.
Right after I logged in, I was greeted by the screen below. Bare in mind that I placed high expectations on them after all the hype over “Web 2.0″, gradients and friendliness they said they provided. However, the screen below is just an eye sore.
I think that “Imp” means impression, right? Why not write the full word? Since there is enough space anyway.
Next, why after I am logged in, the first page that I see is the “Your Stats” page, and not the “Dashboard“? I don’t have a problem with it, just that in your navigation bar on the left, the “Dashboard” comes first, then only “Your Stats” and the rest. Nothing major, and definitely not a bug.
I think either displaying the “Dashboard” first or rearrange the navigation bar to show the “Your Stats” first would generate a better ‘flow’.
You have two pages (“Dashboard” and “Your Stats“) that shows statistics. I agree that having some statistics on the dashboard would be great (IF you display “Dashboard” first after log in).
Honestly, I am a bit confused which page you intend to come first. But based on my experience using blogger.com, their ‘dashboard’ comes first. Let’s assume your Dashboard comes first, then the statistics provided in the dashboard should be a general overview of all the statistics. While the statistics in “Your Stats” should be a more detailed version of it.
After analyzing your statistics, I can only know today’s impression, total impression from day one (I think) under “Total” and “Your Stats” page, the past 7 days impression, and monthly impression starting from 2 months back. Why I say 2 months back is because there is no statistics that shows impression for the current month (April) and the previous month (March).
Add statistics for the current and previous months. It would be great if you can provide a daily statistics for at least the past 30 days. Some graphs would visualize the data better.
If you look at the picture below (in their Dashboard), you will notice my account status is “Pending“. There are 3 reasons why it is pending but I want to highlight the 3rd point — Demographics Poll 100 more needed. I am not sure if it is only me, but I haven’t heard anyone complaining about this.
Firstly, they restrict members to have at least 100 unique visitors to their blog before they can join their ad program. Now, after I register an account, they restrict me on an extra ‘requirement’ before I get a chance to see an ad placed in my blog? Is this right? I understand they need to have some ‘data’ before they can target ads on my blog, but they could have at least stated this ‘requirement’ before I joined their program. I think this is wrong but like I said, I don’t see anyone else complaining.
The reason why I don’t like the idea of making the users get 100 polls answered before an ad can be served is some (I found two already) of your users have no choice but to ask for answered polls by irrelevant individuals (people that don’t go to their blog but they answered the poll for the sake of ‘helping out’).
Below are two screenshots that I took when I stumbled on Kenny’s blog. (both bloggers’ nicknames are blurred to protect their privacy)
Inform the users that they are required to get 100 polls answered before ads can be served to them before they register.
My ‘test blog’ is at http://bunnymakemoney.blogspot.com. I notice most of the time that the “Ads Imp” increases together with the “Poll Imp“. Is this a bug or I just don’t understand how it works?
I also notice that a user can repeatedly ‘self-answer’ their own polls. I have done it 5 times just to test it out. All they need to do is refresh the page after each time they answered the poll.
After a user has answered the poll, at least store the information into their cookie (or session). That will prevent them from answering it again.
In their “Your Stats” and “Your details” page, there is a note that says:
Please keep in mind that you will not be eligible to view your demographics data, or be eligible for payment until further details about yourself are verified, and further terms & conditions are agreed to. We will contact you shortly regarding additional information needed.
Next, the “Your details” page.
It is very seldom that I come across a form that looks like this on the Internet. A professional looking form would look more organized and properly arranged. Apart from the outlook of the form, I found that they did not design the database according to the proper industry standards. If you notice, all the inputs that the user has to key-in are in textboxes. That means that they designed the database to store all informations in this form as plain text.
Data such as “Date of birth” should be stored in date format. “Postcode“, “Children” and “No. of blogs” should be stored as integer type. “Race“, “Religion” and “Language Spoken” should be stored in char(1) or enum, or others. Ironically, two informations (gender and blog category) that are dropdownlist from the ‘registration form‘ are also stored as plain text. Those should be stored as ‘char(1)’ or enum, or other more appropriate types.
A properly designed database would create different type of options for the user to select/input such as textbox, dropdownlist and radio buttons. Below is a screenshot of GMail’s settings form.
So, why should a programmer design a database according to the proper industry standards?
1. Rule Seven: User appropriate types and constraints
The structure of a database is crucial to its ability to transform raw data into usable information. Each database should conform to a set of standard rules designed to optimize its utility. These rules make a database a flexible, usable tool, and not just a place to store information.
2. Poor design/planning
Since the database is the cornerstone of pretty much every business project, if you don’t take the time to map out the needs of the project and how the database is going to meet them, then the chances are that the whole project will veer off course and lose direction. Furthermore, if you don’t take the time at the start to get the database design right, then you’ll find that any substantial changes in the database structures that you need to make further down the line could have a huge impact on the whole project, and greatly increase the likelihood of the project timeline slipping.
3. How to Encrypt Passwords in the Database
Realize that the data in your database is not safe. What if the password to the database is compromised? Then your entire user password database will be compromised as well. Even if you are quite certain of the security of your database, your users’ passwords are still accessible to all administrators who work at the Web hosting company where your database is hosted.
As you can see, designing a proper database according to the ‘standard’ is very important. The proper formatting of the data/information given by their users (that is stored in the database) is crucial to a company. So, how could they have possible missed this point? Therefore, combining all the simple mistakes/bugs that I found in the first review together with their lack of effort in designing a proper database, this is why 2 questions popped into my mind:
1. How much time and effort was put into securing the user’s privacy (password)?
2. Are the users’ password encrypted?
You should spend more time designing a proper database. The longer you wait, the harder it will be.
In the “Your details” page, there is an item, “No. of blogs“. What if I have more than 1 blog? Do I need to register a new account for each blog? Or one account to multiple blogs? In your FAQ, you mentioned “need to install separate tracking code on each site“.
By the way, in your FAQ, this question “How does the RM10,000 for first 200 bloggers program work?” should be changed to “How does the RM15,000 for first 300 bloggers program work?”, no?
The guys behind Advertlets has put a lot of effort at the ‘front-end’ of their website. I love their poll, design and look. However, I personally feel that they should have balanced their time and effort a little more towards the back-end of their website as well. Iron out all the bugs, find more advertisers and you should be good to go.