This is going to be the first part in a series of posts about a new website, www.youpark.com that focuses on reselling applications for your mobile device. You might think what’s so special about this – there are plenty of others out there, what makes this one special. In part you are right, and I think what distinguishes any player in this markets is the ability for them to deliver on the promise of being able to easily find the right software to meet your needs.
So let’s start with a look at their home page as this is where most of us will begin. Across the top are images of some of the currently popular devices – selecting one of these will immediately filter the list of applications to those compatible with the selected device. This gives us our first glance at navigation taxonomy used for applications listed with this site. Not only can you filter applications by device, you can broaden the filter to a specific platform using the links in the Platform selector box in the left column.
Going down the left column they have interestingly placed a Newsletter sign up box between the Platform and Category selection box. Personally I think this detracts from the site as it makes it appear a little disorganised. I think this signup option might be better on the right where the search box is.
This brings us to the next point which is that there is a quite effective search box in the right column. Again I’m a little confused as the default option is Google search, which simply takes the user away from the site. Selecting the YouPark option yields the appropriate result set but fails to take into consideration any platform or device filters you may have selected. If you select the Expand Search option you will see that you can also specify filters such as Price, Platform and even Delivery mechanism. I rather suspect there may be other filter options that you might want to specify – such as the ability to select multiple devices or platforms, or the ability to filter by software vendor.
In the middle of the home screen there is a rather obtrusive piece of advertising immediately above a device filter box (I would recommend that this becomes a floating ad that hovers at the bottom of the screen – when the user scrolls it follows, remaining at the bottom of the screen). Selecting a manufacturer causes a horrible full-page refresh – it would be nice if this was an ajax style call to retrieve the list of devices from this manufacturer. Once you have selected an appropriate device you can hit go and the list of applications will be filtered to just those that are compatible with the specified device. The list of devices seems to be quite up to date, although the recently announced Sony Ericsson X1 phone was missing.
If you’re not sure which device you have you can use the “Select Type of Mobile” from the tabs at the top of the screen. This will give you a visual selector from which you can select your mobile. Of course with literally thousands of mobile devices, flipping through countless pages is going to take a while, so it really helps to at least know the manufacturer. Perhaps they need a 20-questions style survey the user can take in order to work out what phone they have?
On nearly all the pages there is of course more paid advertising – I actually would highly recommend the second application, Pocket PC Controller, as I’ve found it to be incredibly useful and really simple to use. The advertising is well placed and not offensive which means that it doesn’t noticeably get in the way of searching the site for applications.
In the application listing area in the centre of the screen each application is listed in a uniform manner which makes browsing them very simple. The following is the listing for Trippo – as you can see the logo and application title are clearly visible, as is the price. Below the logo is a smaller icon indicating platform compatibility, in this case with Java, and to the right is a summarised list of the devices that the application is compatible with.
Clicking on the logo, title or the Learn more link will take you through to a much more detailed information sheet for the application.
The second set of images are from the User Reviews link off the Trippo application information page. Other links allow you to register for trial of the product or to go ahead and acquire the application (this will be covered in a later post).
As you can see from this summary of the basic mobile application directory functionality, www.YouPark.com have done a reasonably good job of balancing product placement ads, category and platform filters and general search capabilities. The information on applications is of a high quality and includes user reviews which are always an important part of selecting an application.