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Feedback on our startup: a personal shopping service (clayvalet.com)
18 points by ken on Apr 22, 2008 | hide | past | web | favorite | 28 comments



I hate this modern trend to trick users to sign up: on the first page, pretend all will be easy and peachy, no sign-up necessary. As soon as you enter anything, the evil "sign up first before you can see anything at all" pops up.

What I am saying: I saw a "sign up" form. Not very impressive, seen those about a zillion times before.

Edit: not saying you can't require users to sign up eventually, but please show me SOMETHING about what benefits to expect before I sign up.


We only require you to sign up when you're submitting a personal shopping request (i.e., engaging people to do work on your behalf). Looking at other people's requests and reports is entirely free to unregistered users.

Thanks for expressing your frustration: we need to design that part of the user experience better. Our conversion goal is getting people to sign up and submit a request. We don't want people to abandon the page because they feel tricked into signing up.


I also tried recommending something to a user in the box to the right, and also ended up seeing a sign-up form.

The first thing I tried was to enter something into the "shopping request" form, but I don't know yet what it is supposed to do. So I don't know that it will make people work for me, and hence I don't appreciate the sign-up form. If you require the sign-up before I can do anything meaningful, please show me what to expect in some other way (like a movie).

If I am not allowed to do something, don't show me the option to do it- please!


Sign up should be at checkout. That's how all online stores work.

This is like making people show ID before they're allowed to browse the store.


I like the site - at first I was a little put off because I thought I needed to register to see anything but then realized I can still see other people's requests/answers.

The colors seem a little dull to me in this "Web 2.0" world - I think if you make the design look more lively it 'll increase the appeal of the site.

Also, are you you are allowed to use the images you are using? I have no idea what the Amazon TOS are.


Thanks, glad you like it. Dull colors, and you're not the first to say that. Hmmm.


One small nitpick, but it always bugs me: don't rely on browser resizing for images! Especially for really small thumbnails. This is what I see in Firefox:

http://www.clutterme.com/users/alex/thumbs_unresized.png

This is what I could see if the images were resized before being sent to my browser:

http://www.clutterme.com/users/alex/thumbs_resized.png

(I resized the middle two thumbnails from the original images)


Yeah, that's clearly subpar. We'll have to do something about it soon, but it's not quite our top priority yet (report quality and site navigation are).


Do you manually make recommendations for each request or is there some sort of natural language parsing algorithm that you've built? If the latter, then really cool this has potential..


How is it scalable? Also: do you not plan on using ad revenue? As a consumer reports-ish site it seems like ad-fare might damage your cred (read: your entire product).


We show ads to users who aren't signed in. We're experimenting with affiliates, but we're careful to put in affiliate tags after recommendations are generated.

If ads and affiliates become a serious concern for our users, we'll ditch them.


We break up this work into smaller tasks, and use Mechanical Turk for some of the tasks.


I think it's neat, but it seems like something that would exists as a B2B licensed product, rather than a consumer-facing tool.


If you know businesses interested in licensing a version of ClayValet, please send them my way.


I'd just start setting up meetings with major online retailers. Especially ones with offline components.


When I view this request, for a monitor, you are recommending a laptop: http://clayvalet.com/r/an-lcd-monitor-with-dimensions-of-at-...


True. The older a report, the more likely we are to have 'misfire' recommendations. We still have some, but they're getting much less frequent.


I like the idea. More details about how you make money would make for better feedback.


We plan to charge for a premium version of this service (underway).


Did you consider using affiliate links as well?


We're showing some affiliate links (when the recommended merchant happens to be an affiliate), but we're concerned about possible misperceptions of bias.


Good point. Post on your progress, I'm interested :-)


I like the idea, too -- neat!

Perhaps include a field where an inquirer puts a price range of what they are willing to spend (including tax and shipping) would be helpful for you to select something a gift that the person inquiring can afford.


Thanks for the suggestion. You know, we've gone back and forth on offering a variety of more structured forms. In this case, it probably does make sense.


if you did language parsing you'd be in for a big buyout from someone like amazon.


If I had a working AI, I'd be sitting pretty.


Very good idea. I would touch up the design using better colors and that's about it. Huge potential.


Thanks! Now all we've got to do is execute.




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