This week’s review is about DealTaker. Yan already featured DealTaker in an interview format which received a very high level of controversial discussions in the comments section there. DealTaker also is shown as the top deal site in the quick poll which is always there in the top right side of this blog’s home page, however I should point out that there is no way to identify the person who votes (probably except for the IP address). DealTaker also happens to be the first site I am reviewing which has an “active” forums setup (last week I reviewed DeaLoco, a new site with no “active” forum).
DealTaker is a site with a majority of its features based upon a forum software. Seeing the logo, my guess is that the logo colors were chosen to go along with the typical forum blue color. These forum blue colors have become so monotonous across several websites. We will now quickly see the various items in the home page top to down.
First item at the very top, is an image which says, “Add us to your toolbar!”. Seeing this, I assumed that this takes to a cool firefox add-on or something like that; however this takes to a set of instructions on how to add this page as a bookmark into a folder which lists on the toolbar on top. I am not sure why the website operators believe that the users of their website will be so naive that, they need to be instructed on how to make a bookmark. And if you instruct, the instruction needs to be complete. The instructions tell you to add to the “Bookmarks Toolbar” folder (Firefox) and you are done. With me being the naïve user, what if my view settings was to not show the bookmark toolbar?
Next is a set of links grouped like this: RSS | (Log In | Register ), so I assume that the behavior of Log In and Register links will be similar. Clicking on “Log In” gives a pop up while “Register” takes to a new page, which misses a main tenet of usability: consistency. Next is a link which lets you enroll for periodical updates by email. To use this I had to sign up for an account. I signed up, clicked submit and again the “Terms and Conditions” page comes back, which again took me back to the registration page. This time I again entered the same registration details to learn that the username was taken, so I assumed that my sign up was successful. So, I go back to the home page and clicked on the login link on top, which shows the pop-up to login. However after clicking on the log-in button, again I am taken to the “Terms and Conditions” page.
Becoming curious about what causes this, may be any wrong username/password takes you the registration page rather than telling about wrong username or password. I am still confused about what happened to that ID I signed up for. May be I got an email telling me to confirm email address. I did get an email, but it says that signup/registration process is over and the password shown there is also right. May be I should not use the damn popup login thingy and try using the default login given by the forum? I just click on one of the forum links in the home page, but no login form. I then browsed to find the home page of the forum, wow! Finally the login form is there. I try logging in and hurray! It works! Just to confirm that these problems I told are indeed true, I logged out and tried to login through the “login” link on top of every page which gives a popup: this time it works. May be first time I need to login through a regular form? Whatever is the reason - I am sure this line sounds very mean, but this is the worst signup/login setup I have ever seen. Given so many users in this forum, I am sure this could not happen to every use, this could have been a random error, but at the time of writing this, this is what happened to me.
The search feature lets you pick options which can be one among “Active Deals” or “All Forums”. Under “Active Deals” there is “Deals”, “Free Stuff”, “Coupons”, “Prices”. I assume picking on of those items under “Active Deals” is meant for currently valid items while “All Forums” includes expired items as well. There is one other interesting option in the drop down, which is “Advanced Search”, which redirects to the search page of the forum. In my opinion grouping “Advanced Search” with the other items in a select box does not sound logical.
The top menu includes an assortment of links in no particular grouping or order, while two of the links takes to other websites, which are beyond the scope of this review. “Deals” and “Free Stuff” take to the respective sections of the forum while “Gift Cards” lists of set of stores, clicking on one of those links, takes to the gift card ordering page of that store. The “Stores/Coupons” link takes to a listing of about 500 stores (did not really count). Clicking on any of those stores names, gives details about coupons, recent deals expired deals etc. However, the pages are cluttered with too much information.
On the next row are two blocks, “Recent Deals” and “Recent Coupons”. If you notice the bottom of the “Recent Deals” you can see that a portion of the text is hidden. At first I thought it was intentional, but then the top of the block provides an option to even set the number of items and no matter which number you pick (15, 25, 50) a significant portion gets cut, very bad use of CSS there(same across different browsers). Did not have the time to review the CSS, but I guess the developer assumed a size for the container, just try increasing the text size to see that items slowly disappear.
Below these blocks are two blocks names “Today’s Preferred Stores” and “Search”. I am not sure what makes a store preferred for today. The search box lets you search deals, price (their other website pricetaker.com) and coupons.
Done with the layout/usability of the homepage, lets head to see the actual contents. All deals get posted into the forums, a lot of posts by the moderators and with a lot of user contributed deals as well. So, this is a nice collection of handpicked deals by moderators and active forum members. The members are awarded by free gifts in return for these posts through a points system. Threads for past 60 days are listed, while the rest get hidden, which should be appreciated. One can go and view the older posts, using the options in the bottom right side of the screen. However, expired deals are not marked expired, which can be pretty annoying for someone who wants to quickly find a good deal. I was able to spot several expired deals, even from threads posted a couple of days back. The forums discussions are not limited to just deals, there are several other topics, intended to build a wider community.
Overall, content wise, this is a good website with a decent amount handpicked deals, however layout and usability wise, I found this website to be a nightmare. Maybe, noone really cares about the home page and goes directly into the forum. If this is the case, they could just have the forums index page as the home page!