Before I start: Why am I even reviewing competitors of Loladex?
Because I need to gauge their strength; writing is how I think, and a review helps focus my mind.
Also, I believe that the local/social movement is, to paraphrase Ah-nuld, a learning computer. I toss my praise & criticism into the mix with an expectation that it’ll help raise quality across the category.
(In other words, I’m not doing this just to slam competitors — honest.)
So anyway, MojoPages is another “Local 2.0” rate-and-review site that has launched lately with the de rigeur beta label and a stated goal of being “the evolution of the Yellow Pages.” It doesn’t seem to have gotten any traction so far, but the Great Mentioner insists it’s a contender.
MojoPages certainly is an ambitious site. It launched with a whole mess of social-networking features: Friends, lists, groups, questions, small talk (suggested topic: “How is your day going?”), an e-mail system, and more. Its raw functionality builds on, and I guess trumps, the standard suite established by sites like Yelp.
Its general approach is post-Yelpy, too, with plenty of attaboys and “First to Review” labels.
MojoPages tries to distinguish itself, however, with a focus on video and a more structured & granular take on reviews: Rather than giving a business a single rating, for instance, you give it a Zagat-like three ratings — for value, service and quality. And rather than a single text blob, you can fill out CitySearch-like “pros” and “cons” sections.
First off, the logo icon is clever and communicates the value proposition: The classic Yellow Pages icon, except with a thumbs-up instead of walking fingers. I like it.
And the focus on video, while it hasn’t been rewarded with much non-staff participation, could be worthwhile if they can get users to play along.
[Aside: I think they’re wrong to ask for “video reviews.” Postable video reviews are too much work to produce, duplicative of the written reviews, and generally low quality. Meanwhile, a simple pan around a restaurant with minimal (or no) narration, using a camera phone, can be immensely useful — as demonstrated on some of the MojoPages reviews.This is how I think user-generated video will flourish in local: As supplemental material, like photos, rather than as an alternative to text reviews. Some users will do complete video reviews, as several MojoPages staffers attempt, and companies like TurnHere will distribute professional video, but they’ll be a minority.]
Meanwhile, the business listings on MojoPages have some nice features, such as a business-specific link to the Better Business Bureau.
Alas, in almost every case the BBB link produces no result because there’s no matching BBB report. They should write a little spider that helps them remove all but the productive links, or see if the BBB will give them a feed.
Beyond these positives, I found the site to be cluttered with redundant features. The profusion of social tools is serious overkill, and unfortunately emphasizes how little participation they’re getting. (Class? Anyone? Anyone?)
I’m not sure whether transparency is a good idea at startup, but the site allows us see how many people have joined lately (anywhere from 0 to 10 daily) and guess at how many have joined in total (hundreds but not thousands). They’re probably not helped by an architecture that seems unfriendly to search engines.
Launching with a site that seems deserted is an occupational hazard of Web 2.0, but MojoPages has been up for a few months now and doesn’t seem to be building steam.
The result is a “Small Talk” section that shows only one post in the last month — and that from a staffer. The feature is one of several that MojoPages should simply shut down, if only to clarify where they want users to start.
MojoPages also has the typical range of beta issues, from misspellings to confusing navigation. Mainly, though, it’s trying to be too many things at the same time: Yelp and Facebook and YouTube, all in a muddle.
It’s early days, and I’m sure MojoPages will sharpen its focus. Its founders, whom I don’t know, seem to be enthusiastic. But for now, the overall effect is to make me appreciate what Yelp has achieved.