Damian Hickey

Mostly software and .NET related. Mostly.

Beatport ditches flash, finally!

.. and it only took them 4 years after this conversation.

from: Customer Support comm****@beatport.com via factorylabs.com
reply-to: comm***@beatport.com
to: dhi****@gmail.com
date : 30 July 2007 23:42
subject: Can you offer us some feedback?

Hello,

This is Clayton with Beatport Customer Support. I see that you haven't used your account in a month or two. We really appreciate the relationship that we had with you, and I feel that it's important to reach out and talk to our customers about what we can do to make the site better. I would love to hear any suggestions or comments that you may have. Please be as brutally honest with me as possible. Was there an issue we couldn’t resolve, or a need that we weren't able to meet? Did you find your music elsewhere? Etc.. If you still use Beatport with a secondary account, but would like to make some suggestions please feel free to do so, noting that you are still a Beatport user.

I want Beatport to be the best and I think that can only be accomplished by really listening to what our customers have to say about our site and service.

I look forward to hearing from you,

Clayton Olson
303.565.2688
Beatport Customer Service

To which I responded:

from: Damian Hickey dhi***@gmail.com
to: comm***@beatport.com
date: 1 August 2007 23:35
subject: Re: Can you offer us some feedback?
   
Hello Clayton,

Thank you for emailing me, I welcome to opportunity to pass on some constructive critisism.

There are a lot of good things about your site, 320 kbps MP3, wav's, extensive library that's regularly updated etc, but, for the sake of berevity, I'll concentrate on the parts that I feel are bad / need improving.

  • All flash site... where do I begin with this...
    • Doesn't resize to fit my screen (1920x1200 laptop, triple monitor at 1600x1200each desktop (browser only max in one monitor though)). It's a tiny green box surronded by big gray area.
    • Browser Back / Forward buttons broken. Re-implemented and a little funky in your site.
    • Can't link to anything. "Hey buddy check this track out...er..."
    • Can't bookmark anything. (I use google bookmarks to sync between machines)
    • Can't resize the tiny font. While I like small fonts, the fact that you are using flash denies the user the abilty to resize the font using the browser built-in abilty.
    • Other HTML / browser / platform things don't work - followed link colour, non-standard scroll bars (scroll functionality on my laptop touch pad doesn't work), Find-In-Page, browser username & password remembering doesn't work, rocker navigaton for back & forward broken, mouse gestures don't work (granted those last two are power user tools), etc...
    • You aren't doing yourself any favours with respect to SEO, google can't index you... (and as a business that's gotta hurt!)
    • No hackable urls. i.e. http://www.beatport.com/genres/house or http://www.beatport.com/charts/progressive/2007/07
  • No RSS feeds. I don't want the weekly email (simply don't read it). I want RSS feeds for genres, charts, labels, artists, search results etc.RSS feeds allow the user to target and subsribe to specific information they want to track.
  • More format support, OGG & Flac. (This may explode your storage requirements, I'd be happy to wait for a transcode and notification when available to download).

  • $1 wav handling fee per track is seriously excessive. You have to store the WAV somewhere and serve it somehow. Say a WAV file is 100MB. Amazon S3 storage would charge you 15c a month to store 10 of them. Amazon S3 would charge you 18c to transfer it 10 times. If 10 people a month bought the WAV, your S3 costs would be 33c. Which is $0.033 handling costs per purchase. Now that is a back of the envelope calculation and there are other factors, maybe 10c or 20c would be more appropriate (peferable 0c for FLAC).

  • Package purchased tracks as a single download. Clicking download link each time is mildly irritating. (I'd be happy with a notification when availble to download). Reward those who buy a lot with an easy download process!

  • Geographic restrictions on tracks suck rightly. Probably a licening issue, but if I can't buy it, and a lot of the time it's a impulse purchase, I'm not going to look elsewhere and that artist has just lost a sale.

  • The sound quality of the preview player is poor.

  • I would like a more social aspect. Connect me with other user who have bought similar genres, tracks, artists etc so I can discover new music.

The flash is a major inhibitor to me. It realy affects the usabilty and does affect me spending my money. I've been buying from AudioJelly for a while now for some of the above reasons - html, player that queues up previews, rss feeds etc. Though their site design isn't the best, don't have charts amongst other things.

If you want to do an application, create it in Adobe Air or Silverlight and connect it to the desktop better, otherwise, go html / ajax etc.

I hope you find these comments useful and I look forward to any improvements that may happen.

Kind regards,

Damian Hickey

Now that they've ditched flash, I may actually start buying some music from them again.