Owner’s Lounge? Cool?

ol.pngGot yet another email from the Owner’s Lounge saying they missed me. Awwww. That’s sweet.

But, it’s still the Owners Lounge. And, I’m sorry to say, it still sucks.

Sure I clicked over to vote for MTTS. After that I decided to poke around a bit, see what was going on. Here is what I found.

Nightmarish navigation. Just as always, trying to find anything over there is like looking for a needle in a needle stack. Took me over 5 minutes just to remember how to get to the message boards.

4 words. Black background, white text. It might just be me, but the impossibly small white text on the black background is very difficult to read. At least [ctrl-+] works to make the text larger.

Lack of Organization. In the section Message Boards / Suggestions for MINI / Owner’s Lounge why am I seeing posts about run flat tires, door latch problems and squeaky brakes? This is a post that would go nicely in that section, but I won’t post it there for fear of getting flamed by the regs.

Resumes and profiles. Actually, this part is pretty cool. Would be pretty cooler if even a little bit of formatting was allowed. Maybe bold or italic text? That sure would be nice.

MY Stuff. The OL still has me down as owning a BRG/W MCS. I’ve emailed to get that changed, but I haven’t been able to. That should be an option, as well as changing anything else in there short of the money stuff. I was able to set up a second username with my current VIN, but it’s not tied to everything else I have done or posted.

Tracking. This is another cool feature of the OL. Although it would be nice if it were a little more timely.

I know there is set-in-stone online design language that has be followed, but does that have to affect functionality and organization as well? I don’t think so. If you look around the internets there are many a message board, including NAM and MINI2 and many of the club sites/boards that pull off effective navigation and useability much better than the OL.

It doesn’t have to be this way. I’m sure the devs could spend some time on message boards and make changes to the custom app they have created. Or, they could move the OL off of the Windows server it currently lives on (or used to) and move it into the realm of Open Source. At that point, there are quiet a few options that would be available with already created apps that are free or very low cost. The nice thing with almost all of these apps is that most of them work together. An installation of WordPress MU and bbPress comes to mind for an integrated solution. It could be easily designed to match the correct design (check the MU blog) and be much more useable that what is there now.

Ok, I’ve said my peace. Next post won’t be a rant, I promise!

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  1. My number one issue with the OL is it’s insane password complexity requirements. It’s not an online bank for pete’s sake! Because I must give it such a complex password, I have trouble remembering it (and they quickly lock you out for trying too).
    And the downright sad fact that the forums stink, but many mini owners know only of them and not the excellent real forums.

  2. You can put multiple MINIs in against your one user name – I had the red and GP MINIs in there while I owned them. No need to set up a new user for the new VIN.

    Other than that, I agree!

  3. It’s sort of ironic. I’m currently working on a professional project that will be using Live World for something very similar to the MINI USA Owners Lounge. Unfortunately this particular client has them on the “Approved Vendors” list and they fit all the requirements well. Meaning that there really isn’t much of a choice. Assuming it goes forward, it will be interesting to see what it’s like to work with them “on the other side”.

  4. I think it’s a case of too many cooks spoiling the soup. Too many corporate requirements to meet the MINI conformity tune.
    I have set up 3 separte accounts, and remember one password, so i can still get in. Can easily modify my current ride, but still can’t select my dealership as my favorite one! argh!
    At least they take my money each money. But, if you go to do a payoff…..they only accept up to $5K per month electronically. bummer.

  5. . . . well, I can already think of a few sites that are doing it a lot better for I assume, a lot less! MINI needs a “consultation”! ;)

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