This post starts a weekly series of website reviews. Just as I promised I will review one bargain site a week. With rare exceptions, the website needs to be in my popular websites list. The websites that offers something unique will be given a priority over the rest.
The bargain site of this week is SlickDeals. It is a very popular website, in fact they just bypassed their archi-rival FatWallet for the first time since I started tracking both in September 2006. So what makes SlickDeals “the number one” bargain site in the entire web?
Some not so slick pages
For starters they hand pick the hottest deals and post them on the front page which perfectly works for the “lazy” majority. The collection of coupons looks pretty impressive as well. The Price Comparison is powered by PriceGrabber and doesn’t present anything special just as the Store Ratings page which is co-branded with ResellerRatings, the leader in this niche. SlickDeals has a very nice home grown Amazon Fillers tool. Use it when you need to add a buck or two to qualify for Amazon’s free shipping on orders of $25 or more. However I bet none of these pages get much use.
Here is a proof. Browse to Store Ratings page and from there try clicking on the Coupons menu. You will notice that the link is broken and redirects to a domain squatter, “betaslickdeals.com”. It is hard to believe that something like this would go unnoticed for long on a website that gets many thousands of visitors a day. The only explanation I can think of is that all of the visitors don’t browse to these parts of the website. They all go straight to the forums which is where all of the action happens. (Update: the team fixed the bug after this article was published)
Where all the action happens
SlickDeals user forums are arguably the most popular bargain hunting web forums on the net. Hot Deals, the most popular of them, produces hundreds of posts and thousands of user comments daily. This is the place where I go if I need details on a certain promotion or discount. Since there are so many people participating there is a good chance someone has already attempted to use it and posted their feedback. The community behind these forums is SlickDeals’ most valuable asset.
SlickDeals is doing a great job keeping the posters rewarded for digging out bargains. Reputation based voting system is the cornerstone of the SlickDeals forums community. As users gain reputation they obtain certain profile attributes and other perks such as ability to give negative reputation to other users and access to closed areas of the forums.
Forums openness is another important factor that attracts people to SlickDeals. Life stories like this (Title: Another case of hurt feelings on FW) produce flame posts like this (Title: Oh why does Fatwallet suck?) and the ball just keeps rolling. “Corporate shills” is how SlickDeal’ers commonly refer to FatWallet forum moderators in The Lounge, the second popular forum where there is absolutely no inappropriate topic to discuss.
New features improve the site
SlickDeals keep adding features, and maybe not as aggressively as they should, they make the website easier to use with each upgrade. The recent addition includes Post Tags, First Post Preview and Deal Alerts (right now in closed beta testing). The preview lets you read the first post of a forum thread without opening the thread page. The alerts allow you to set up instant email notifications on forum new posts by keywords and/or thread rating.
This long overdue functionality is exactly what prompted me to start WiredDeals back in summer of 2006. Thank you Mr. SlickDeals! What took you so long? Now how about a more advanced search and threads filtering? ;-)
As with any social website an active community is ultimately the best way to build an even bigger community. As the web expands small sites get bigger but big established sites get bigger even faster. SlickDeals benefited from an early start and firmly established itself as the leader among the younger part of population.
If customizable avatars, long signatures, and fancy smile icons is what important for you — head for SlickDeals and you will feel yourself home. If you think you are too grown up for this childish stuff, wait a week until I review a SlickDeals alternative for conservative type — FatWallet. Until then, so long!