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Ask HN: Review my startup, gtrot.com
57 points by Blocks8 on Dec 13, 2011 | hide | past | web | favorite | 57 comments
Looking particularly for feedback on ease of use, UX and UI inputs. We opened up the site to everyone yesterday and would love the HN view of how to make it better.


Gave it a try on W7/64 Chrome.

I happen to live outside hipster nation, so it took a while to load stuff. It did OK at letting me know this was in progress, but it could have been better. Had I not been reviewing it, I might have abandoned it.

Going to the second page of items took longer than it should have.

Returning to the site, it seems to want to start over acquiring the location. Can you not insert some memory for place in a first-party cookie?

The place-locator button won't turn green unless the place is spelled perfectly. It's case sensitive.

You might rethink the "generic" language shown to those who decline fb / tw access. Of course, if your monetizing scheme requires access to those services, maybe you're doing the right thing.

I live in a place with lots of summer visitors, but right now it isn't summer.

Data-wise, it seems to repeat items when there aren't enough items to fill its UI. Maybe it's only fair that there should be lots of dunkins and starbucks on line; there are in real life. But it's a little hokey looking.

The Google Maps placemark (red ice-cream-cone with rectangle in it) is recognizable. It looks like an affordance to get to a map. But it isn't. The scroll-in Click To Expand does exactly the same thing as clicking on the picture or the placemark, as far as I can tell. Also, the cursor doesn't change anywhere within a place listing. Lost opportunity for UX depth?

Thanks for the chance to review this. All the best.

I might be missing it, but I see a way to narrow results to a specific category, how about an option to exclude categories? For instance, excluding food? Sometimes I'm just looking for something to do, not to eat.

The shade of blue isn't pleasing to my eyes, or maybe that there's just so much of it is what's hurting? I'm not a color or design specialist, so this is just my opinion and might just be preference.

Very neat site though, I could see myself using it.

– The search button floating outside of search box looks off to me. (safari)

– The search UX isn't very good. I sat there for 20-30 seconds after typing "detroit" in the box and clicking on the greyed-out button (not clear that's a deactivated state until you see green) before realizing that i had to make a selection from the drop down. I would add a notification with instructions upon clicking on the greyed out one at the least. Additionally, even after typing "Detroit, MI" in the box, an exact match, i had to click it in the dropdown. Don't like that at all.

– Facebook popup after searching was a bit in-your-face for me. Plain annoying for the second and third searches. Searching nearby cities can give new, useful results, so I'd love to see an additional search input on the results page. (http://cl.ly/0s0b420a0q3p1K2m1y0Q looks like a good spot)

– Infinite scroll would be great on the results page, as the app seems to be great for browsing through many thumbnails and discovering a few new things.

Nice job though! I found many things around me that I hadn't heard of before. Great start.

Thanks - very helpful. Will check the search bug in Safari.

Overall, this is really excellent. My town is small but near Silicon Valley, and this does a great job of showing me stuff that's actually near me. Well done!

I imagine it's going to be hard to present information in the same way for large and small towns... Maybe you need some kind of a city/busy/crowded interface to give categories and narrow down, but for a little place without much of interest you just showed paged and ranked like this? Like, "entertainment in Chicago" or "food in Los Angeles" are way too broad a category to present in this format.

Great to hear you found some new stuff. If you logged in, you should start to see friend check-ins and things that are trending.

Do you think time of day would help or search instead of filter?

Time of day would be an excellent addition if you can do it in a clean way, UI-wise.

Great idea. Here's my two cents on feedback.

* I like the footprints in the logo a lot - it makes me realize quickly that this is an app for exploring nearby. The logo could be easier to read. White line on red outline is pretty hard on the iPad.

* The "Click here for travel dates" is too faded to read easily.

* When I type "San Francisco", the AJAX loader takes quite a while. This may just be server load - consider pre-sending some results for popular cities, or the most likely cities, or ideally do a geolocate on my IP.

* I like the page slide effect a lot.

* I don't understand some of the images, like the mardi gras mask on the "Contact" page, or the gray drops on the "Work with us" page. On all these pages, consider moving the logo from upper right to upper left where it's more typical thus easier to find.

* The explore page UX/UI is gorgeous. Very well done. The pics though seem to be quite vague, especially of the bars and restaurants many of which look like blurry snapshots of unknown backgrounds. See San Francisco "Baretta" or "Clift House" for examples.

Great site overall - will definitely use it.

Thanks for the feedback, you called out a bunch of interesting points!

The AJAX loader for cities preloading some results resonates strongly with me and will hopefully be implemented soon as we work on tightening the UX. Facebook(among plenty of others) does this for friend search and it makes a huge difference in the experience of using that search.

Clickable: http://gtrot.com

Personally, I would just go to the results page and encourage the user to connect to facebook in a less obtrusive way. Also when clicking on an event it would be nice if you could pull in some more information through some API be it the specific event information or details about the artist playing.

We're currently using SeatGeek for our events. Will work with them to provide a richer event experience.

use geolocation to show a default city to the user. they should of course be able to change it, but it's better than just showing a big text box when you already know what major city an ip is near.

Some constructive criticism:

1. Making the blue background lighter or changing to a different scheme may be easier on the eyes and less agressive

2. Please use a custom theme for the jquery-ui widgets (like the autocomplete). It's like default and it doesn't match the page

3. I don't think blocking the search button is a good idea, if the autocomplete goes slow or the user is fast it will create the illusion of a broken button.

4. Give the search button a little bit of button style

5. I don't like the sign on facebook popup that gets on the way of the search, maybe putting it on the results page would be less anoying making users click on sign in only when they have tried and liked the application.

6. If you don't like 5), at least put the 'No thanks, show me generic results' on a button, something green or so, like the search button

7. Fix the 'Sorry! No items match this filter.' message, it's only text, you can do better using some cute images and inviting the user to re-search or change tabs.

That is about it, looks nice.

Thanks for all of the tangible feedback - really helpful. Especially love the cute image instead of text. Thanks!

Cool to see you using the HN community. I met one of the founders (not sure if it was you by your username) when the University of Michigan visited Lightbank.

So I'm going to New Orleans in January. I typed in my dates and all and started clicking around. The design is beautiful and UX/UI was intuitive.

Some product feedback:

I'm overloaded. There is way too much to look through in New Orleans. I need a better way to filter and curate. This would be really useful if I had the time to sit down and go through all of it but I don't. I might be missing some obvious stuff (it's happened before), but I also don't know how things are being ranked. I literally want one page to go through and ignore the rest, hopefully feeling somewhat confident in knowing that the first page is the most relevant for me. Just my two cents!


Hey! Thanks for your feedback. What would you imagine better way to educate the user that we rank results based on your likes, so first page of results should be the best (if you login)?

Just a stream of notes as I go through the first time around.

The fixed bottom footer could use a bit more contrast. When the white text from the main body slides over it, it gets garbled and messy looking. Also, there feels like too much space between each section when I scroll down.

I like that I can see results without having to sign in with Facebook. It lets me try out the service before I commit.

The color scheme is cheerful, but a bit too harsh. The nav elements within the results also lack contrast.

The animation on the place name on hover is neat the first time, but annoying every time after. The tiles are just jumping around all over when I move my mouse.

Filtering by category could be faster, but I like that it does it via ajax and stays on the same page.

Overall, good job! Best of luck

Thanks for your feedback. We've got a few thoughts on the color scheme too. Appreciate you taking the time!

The site is really coming along! Large, gorgeous, intuitive user interface coupled with a smooth user experience that begins with the 'as you type' search suggestions on the main page. I love it- it's snappy. My only suggestion at this point would be the ability to click the city name in the header to begin a new search rather than forcing me back to the main page. Ideally it would just become a text input field on click rather than being a link. I love the idea of pulling the info from other sites that my friends already use rather than relying on them creating a gtrot account to start populating the site with info relevant to me. Keep up the great work.

Thanks for the feedback. Did you link your Foursquare account, did you see results update? (or was it unclear you could even connect with Foursquare?)

At first I didn't know whether to start putting in something to do or put my city in. I got confused when I started to put in "Watch a movie" and it didn't come up with any autocomplete results. It might be good to mention in the search bar, maybe as a placeholder "New York City, NY" or maybe even have your city retrieved through the HTML5 Location API.

Also, jQuery UI's Autocomplete by default looks really bad. While yeah, usability comes before shinyness, it's something worth fixing when there's time.

Hi, Blocks8. I've taken a look at your app. I created a review via moustach.io - a full 5 minutes at


My review is targeted at the content prior to a query. Your landing page.

Let me know if you have any questions.

I can't middleclick on results meaning that I cannot make tabs of things I am interested in.

Not sure why it is all javascript. The functionality is nothing special. The things you do with Javascript are annoying to me (popup windows that are no browser/OS-controlled windows).

Apart from that it seems nice. Seemingly good results for my non-USA hometown which is rare.

Thanks for the feedback. Yeah those links trigger lightboxes with js, so there currently isn't a way to view those in new dedicated windows. But great suggestion

Alternative browsing method might be using Next/ Previous buttons inside lightbox, or left right arrows on keyboard

I really liked it - tried it out for my hometown here in the UK and got some pretty pertinent results. One thing though - why is there no persistence of my facebook opt-in choice across the session? For instance, if I tried 'Oxford', and then 'London', I was prompted for facebook permissions both times - was that by design?

Did you login to Facebook before adding the second location? We can't personalize data for your results unless you connect into Facebook. Our goal is to encourage people to connect to get richer results.

Same experience here - your app re-prompted me for Facebook for each city, so each time I had to say no. Would be better if you could ask once, not each time.

great suggestion, thanks!

Ha. Just found something kind of hilarious. I can make it think that I'm exploring the same city many times over. So, if I actually shared it, it would say "I'm exploring Boston, Boston, and Boston..."

Not a major issue, but it could get weird.

Nice job on the new UI, btw. It's been awhile since I've logged in.

Wait a minute... that might be problem. I edited the text and deleted the repeat cities, but it still posted "Boston and Boston." That may be worth looking into.

Got it - will test for multi-city.

Looks great, guys. I think this is a cool idea.

The initial search box is flawed. I typed in "New York City" and it got stuck on that. You should be more flexible with user inputs, or at least fix the autocomplete so it still suggests "New York, NY" after I've typed in "New York City"..

Oops! thanks for the input, we are planning on improving the autocomplete for cities in a few ways, added this to the last, thanks!

Great UI and I like the large, in your face text sizes.

I notice that the suggestions for Miami are kind of weak in terms of interest value and the photos associated with them don't make sense (i.e., a guy in a nightclub for Dadeland Mall). Where are you getting the data from?

Blocks8 is correct about the source. We are looking into both getting more/better sources of photos as well as improving how we select and reveal these images to the user so that we are showing the best and most relevant images

Thanks for the feedback!

A lot of our photos are pulled from social networks, especially Foursquare.

Like most store locators, allow zipcode/postal code as alternative to entering city/state (to help folks in mississauga and such cut down on keystrokes). Assuming you expect a good number of U.S. users that might be a reasonable to do for at least U.S.

Looks very cool - I would totally use something like this if its results were more consistent. I just tried it with Dallas, TX and it suggested "Great White Shark Cage Diving" and "Snowskiing on White Powder" as results #3 and #4. Hmmmm...

Very nice looking, but you should consider having descriptive URLs. So instead of:



That is something that has been on my radar forever and was just waiting for me to find a free weekend to code out the script to set everything up.

I finally found a free minute and got it all setup so it should be live this week

Thanks for the feedback!

#to_param is your friend. :)

Liking the site!

Noted. Thanks!

I like the site and the idea. Great job. Just be careful about over-doing the UX effects. The auto-scroll animation effects makes me want to stay away from the pages that do it.

How long did it take you from conception to launching the site?

looks nice but no middle-click or no open in new tab kills it for me.

also the results show events that were only temporary and are already over .i only checked Hamburg, Germany and the first 2 results are temporary events that are over.

We'll have to double check about expired events- they should automatically filter out. Thanks for the catch.

I expected to see nothing when typing in "Tokushima, Japan", but was amazed to see a lot of content. This is actually as good as the human written guides available online.

I've been using it for awhile now. I really like it. The only problem is I don't travel allll the time so I really only get value out of it every so often.

Do you think you'd find value in using it for your local city? Would you use it for a future trip?

Absolutely. I just haven't looked at it since about August and didn't think to use it in my local city, but it seems to work pretty well here in Boston.

I'm heading down to Buenos Aires for a couple of months in January, so I'll test it out down there as well.

I think once it catches on with my friends (I tried back in July, but I'll keep at it) it's got a lot of potential. I think people naturally like sharing new places and experiences with people. If I post a status message on Facebook that I'm going to Random City, someone will tell me to eat at a certain place or make sure I see a certain thing.

It looks like there's enough recommendations that it's not as reliant on the network effects that made it less appealing in the beginning. Are those all user recs or did you have to scrape data from someplace else?

Very cool. Just found out about a few concerts I hadn't heard of in the area.

I would use this much more if 1. it were mobile and 2. it really emphasized the events.

Both of those are on our radar, thanks!

great UI, and decent results. Can you code a filter for 'free things to do' since most of the 'awesome things' were shopping related. Also, the placename box was case sensitive, where 'Davis, ca' required correction to Davis, CA. I tried a search w and w/o Facebook sign-in and the results were the same. I was expecting the results to be catered to info from my FB profile. Great job!

Thanks for checking it out. Good catch on case-sensitive cities.

Results will update based on friend check-ins. Can take a minute or two to load. You can also add your Foursquare profile if you have one to help influence results.

Nice choice of domain (and logo). You should get the obvious typos as well to protect yourself. (write me for suggestion)

if you hover over the grid items multiple times (in and out), the sliding up animation of the text inside will run for as many times as the mouse entered and left the box. In other words, it queues all the animations. It shouldn't.

I think the blue is a bit distracting. Doesn't really go easy on the eye IMO.

clickable: http://gtrot.com/

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