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Consequences of Going Public Too Early

Posted on 3.27.2008
There's one sure-fire way to make sure your website never gets visited again - release it to the public before it's ready. MyHomeShop.info took a very good idea - video classified ads - then turned it live before it was even close to being ready. What happened is that it was discovered by some random blogs. These blogs didn't care to look too closely at the site before reviewing - and recommending it - but it was put out there in the very large and far-reaching blogosphere for anyone to read, visit the site and discover how bad it really is. Now they can be sure that this early effort will be chastised by early adopters, resulting in a slew of negative attention in search results, the blogoshpere and everywhere else. So instead of working on getting the site ready, time must be spent on damage control. The site claims to be in beta, but they should really be in pre-alpha.

It's supposed to be free video classified advertising but right now its horrific page of nothing. The logo is regretable, the text is small and hard to read, the entire presentation hurts my eyes and there's no usable content. They are using Magnify.net, which puts some limitation on the design - I personally feel that software is cluttered to begin with. Right now there are ugly place holders instead of the promised video ads,  horizontal scrolling *gasp* and a very out-of-place MSNBC news feed (I came here for classified video ads, not news.) Perhaps the only saving grace for MyHomeShop.info is that their URL is lousy. Maybe they can get a new one and re-brand. To see a better (but still cluttered) use of Magnify.net, visit the ContentAgenda Magnify site.

MyHomeShop.info may not have an real plans for usability outside of being a Magnify affiliate, but take this as a lesson to not publish your site before it's capable of what's being promised. Sure, you want to beat the competition to the punch, but while you're making your unusable site public, your competitors are perfecting their service behind the scenes. They can then ride your coat tails while flaunting a superior service. Test your site without making it available on the Web before presenting it - you never know who is going to stumble across your site and promote it for you before its ready.

There are plenty of excellent reasons for video classified ads. Showing a tour of a rental property, demonstrating a product's uses or showing potential employees your excellent work environment. If you want to see a better example of how this can work, head over to ChosenList.com. The page is clean, navigation is easy and they deliver what they promise ... sort of. There aren't many videos to choose from, and it's limited to the Phoenix area right now, but you get the idea. My only real complaint about the usability of the site is that it takes several clicks before you can watch the video. But if they start expanding their offerings and available locations, this could be a winner.
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