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Look and Feel of many Web Directories seems Ancient

Discussion in 'Directory Reviews' started by SimplySidy, Nov 22, 2014.

  1. SimplySidy Member


    Finally, I got WordPress installed on my site and the older static version is pulled down :) though a few pages still need content to be written and I am missing out on sliders. Anyways, they will be up soon.

    With the site almost up and ready, I decided to start with some marketing. And the best place I feel, is to start with Directories (thanks to this forum which has rekindled my good faith in Web Directories).

    So where should I start? I did a read of the posts on this forum and hopped on to the Directory Review Section (I think it is a blog somewhere which does some really great reviews). Anyways, I keep the reviews to another post, but for now, when I hopped on to a few Directories that were free I felt the look and feel of most of them is quite Ancient.

    I mean, the web has progressed from Heavy Designs (way back in early 1990s) to Flash, Javascripts to Web 2.0 to the Flat and Responsive Designs of today. But when looking around at most of the web directories, I feel they are still ancient.

    I agree, most of the Directories are not about Look and Feel (they never were), but then, I think that to keep up with expectations of the new generation of users, they should do something (like maybe using a better UI or even small AJAX code snippets) to make the things better at least for the users.

    What are your opinions on the Look and Feel of Web Directory Sites? Do you think they should thing progressively in terms of their User Interfaces and try to build a better User Experience? And if so, can this change help in getting newer people interested ?

    Off Discussion - A suggestion: The Web Directories Review blog could add up a Look and Feel section on their reviews - this might make things more interesting for some readers.

    Converse likes this.
  2. Converse Active Member


    I think that there is probably room for several different types of web directories. Perhaps I'm wrong but I rather like the fact that some of the directories that are indeed, in web years, ancient, continue to look and feel that way. For example, I'd like to see DMOZ add more new site listings, but I would be disappointed if it started looking like WordPress. On the plus side, there is a sense of stability that shouldn't be overlooked.

    However, that does not mean that every directory should be that way, or that it's wrong for a directory to change its look and feel. It can be problematic, however, because changes to the software running site might mean changes to the URL paths or database problems, which could be disastrous.

    If you keep looking though, I think you'll find an assortment of web directories, some of which look and feel entirely different. For example, Abilogic doesn't have an ancient feel to it, although it's been around since 2004. Aviva, I think, is something in between. Then, there are several directories running WordPress themes.

    I would agree with you, however, that someone starting a web directory today should strive to do something different. Even using traditional directory scripts, they are hugely configurable, although it is necessary to know what you're doing or be willing to pay someone to design if for you.

    I'm not rejecting the idea, but the look and feel that I might be looking for might differ widely from what someone else would want, which is why I think that is room for divergence in the web directory industry.

    SimplySidy likes this.
  3. SimplySidy Member


    DMOZ I believe is the God of all other Web Directories. I had gone there too, (yester-evening) without much expectations in terms of look and feel as I know, DMOZ is as best as it can get - they do their job with sincerity and have build up a repute for themselves quite early. Unfortunately, they still use the same old look even today - I remember when I first visited them during 2007 and yesterday - I could see that nothing is changed. Not even the Fonts. The only changes are on the last 2 lines of text -

    I would not mind their not changing the looks as they dont have to - they are credible and have survived the tests of time.

    The Abilogic look really good with near flat design and they seem to be adaptive to the today's trends. I will be finding out some more web directories this evening and I hope I do find some good ones to start off with by Monday. :)

    Yesterday, I had been to around 7 odd web directories, and most of them had nearly the same looks - plain white background with black text, a similar menu or navigation style and I had started to believe that they have taken up the same app for maintaining and displaying their data. Reading your response above - I realize that this is possible.

  4. Converse Active Member


    There was a feeling among some, a few years ago, that directories worked better when they all used the same taxonomy, since people would then be able to find their way around. Of course, the counter argument was that if everyone was going to use the same taxonomy as DMOZ, then why would there be a need for more than one directory? Many directories began with a dump of DMOZ data, and then added their own content from there. Most of them never went anywhere, but BOTW became a directory as reputable as its parent.

    As long as anyone remains alive at DMOZ, there will always be room for that directory, given its history and reputation, but it is not a directory for new directory owners to emulate. It began at a time when most people were in dialup connections and server space was at a premium. For that reason, DMOZ developed standards that called for very skimpy site descriptions and a low impact design.

    There is no way that DMOZ can be expected to go through all of its listings, changing their non-descriptive descriptions to full sentences that are actually descriptive, and I think most people can accept that, but that is no reason for new directories to begin with the same handicaps. DMOZ has a 15-year headstart, so there's no way that you are going to be able to start a new general directory today and compete head-to-head with DMOZ if you use the same playbook, so new directories need to offer something new, and that should probably begin with the rules of language.

    We don't accept meaningless sentence fragments in any other website, so why are they accepted in web directories? Site descriptions should be descriptive, and they should consist of grammatically correct sentences. When you search for something on Google, the search engine will give you a title and a description, the problem being that the description is often non-descriptive, since it's automatically generated. In a human-edited directory, we can do better than that, yet so many don't bother.

  5. toradrake Member


    Personally, as long as they keep up their directory and keep the simplicity of its design...I don't care if they look ancient or "new age". Some of them may aesthetically want to reconsider the design of their pages (such as dmoz) for the users benefit, but it is not an overall necessity. Newer directories are concentrating on their look to try and place themselves apart from the older more established directories as a means of appealing to newer users. Those that have been around awhile don't really find it necessary as they have already established and grounded themselves in.

  6. SimplySidy Member


    Well, I tend to differ with this approach. If what you said was relevant, sites like Yahoo, CNN and many other biggies would not have bothered about changing their layouts, designs etc and even today, we would have been viewing the sites as they were when they started.

    Talking about Directories and the quoted statement, Abilogic is one great example where they have tried to go in with the happening Flat design.

    But yes, I do agree, for many sites and web directories, it (changing their look and feel) might not be a necessity.

  7. Converse Active Member


    Web directory scripts can be taken out of their box and merged with pretty much any kind of site you might want to build, although this is not necessarily the easiest thing in the world to do. For most scripts, you can find someone to do it for you but then you might find yourself having to hire someone to help whenever you want to upgrade the script. For that reason, most people stick with the web directory package and either buy or build a theme around, the choices being using one of the several free themes or templates that are available for most directory scripts, buying a premium theme, which won't be entirely unique but at least there won't be as many people using it as in the free themes, paying to have someone build a custom theme or template for you, doing it yourself, or integrating the directory script into another site.

  8. Brox New Member


    Yeah, there are web directories that look a little odd or out of date. I agree with your opinion, some of them should change business strategy. I think that the external appearance is crucial for increasing the number of visits, and finally that is the whole point, because all sites owners want more visitors and more interaction. It means more money for everyone. So sometimes I do not understand some owners of web directories. Why do they go in the opposite direction? Probably they have some technical reasons for that decision. It seems most logical. I do not have too much experience with server side programming languages, but as a Front-End Developer, website appearance is very important to me. Perhaps more important than other people. But I want to emphasize that there are many web directories that look very good and have modern design. So they do not look all ancient, just some of them. I wrote short review here on this forum about Ezilon, and that directory looks really great, so I like it. You may take a look and you will see that I am telling the truth.

  9. toradrake Member


    Yeah, but then you have directories like DMoz, everyone goes crazy to get into DMoz, because they are one of the heavies. However, their site is aesthetically ancient in design and personally I find it unpleasant and needs a serious overhaul. Yet it is still holding very strong, so redesign is not necessary because they still deliver the goods.

    I personally think that it would be nice if they were to swing with the times and spruce up a bit. I don't go to DMoz very often because I find the sight ugly (I'm a girl... give me a break. I like pretty things. Keyword... shiny), but SE's and website owners don't care whether it is appeasing to the eyes as long as it has what they want.

  10. Converse Active Member


    I think I mentioned it earlier but one of the big reasons why directories are reticent to make major changes is that they are built around a script or software, and switching to another script can be problematic, particularly given a directory with more than a million listed sites. I am not personally familiar with the backbone to DMOZ but I do know that the volunteer staff that runs the directory do not have access to the code. When I was there, they had a few staff members who were paid employees of AOL but only one who worked exclusively with DMOZ, and I don't believe that he was a coder. In order to make such a change, AOL would have to put paid employees on the project and, since DMOZ is a cost rather than a profit stream for AOL, their willingness to do so is questionable.

    Rich Skrenta and the other founders of DMOZ were coders, so I would imagine that the directory is built on a highly customized backbone, so it's not like simply uploading an upgrade to the script, as would be the case for a directory using PHP Link Directory or eSyndiCat. Even then, problems may occur when the script has been heavily modified or customized. There might even be problems resulting from themes not working with an upgrade. What I am trying to say is that while web directory scripts are dynamic, like WordPress, it's not as easy as clicking the button to upgrade your version of WordPress.

  11. jdroc New Member


    Makes sense that they can't easily customize. I just wanted to chime in. I do agree that some are ancient looking. I think that people in "the know", know what they expect when they arrive.

    It's going to be interesting to see as google keeps making all these updates will directories eventually catch a break and gain prominence. Sometimes new tech is best, sometimes things that appear out of date, make a comeback. Either way, I think the climate in today's internet will bring about some interesting changes in the next couple of years.

  12. Brox New Member


    DMOZ is in partnership with AOL, and it has tradition on the web. It was established in 1998, so 16 years in internet business is a long period. Because of this DMOZ has privilege to look as it looks, and still everyone will want to be on its list. So, DMOZ is the one who dictates the rules. With more than nine million unique monthly visitors DMOZ has the power to do that. But not all web directories in partnership with AOL. We have much smaller web directories that do not get to much traffic, but look worse than DMOZ. Still, they do not do nothing to improve the appearance. As I said I am not sure why they look as they look, but I know that nice appearance can increase popularity of their directories. Maybe I am wrong, but this is my opinion, and how I feel about this matter.

    Last edited: Nov 24, 2014
  13. toradrake Member


    Oh no, you are not wrong. Me, as a user, find that I tend to be more inclined to use a site that is aesthetically pleasant and less likely to stay and use a site that I don't like the way it looks. That is how it is with 95% of users, so you would think that if they want to get a better audience they would improve their look to attract more users.

    Brox likes this.
  14. SimplySidy Member


    I didnt know that you were a Girlo_O.... Your profile says you are a male :confused:!!!

    Billy likes this.
  15. Jill Original Member



    I'd rather the directory staff concentrate on adding more content to their directory than on trying to keep up with the latest fad in website design. There is no reason why anyone should put up a new directory using an old design, but I see nothing at all wrong with the older directories looking their age.

    The problem with DMOZ isn't its design but the fact that large parts of the directory hasn't had anything new added in years. They don't have enough editors to keep up with the work of maintaining a directory and they're not willing to take anyone else on.

  16. Billy New Member


    Ha ha. I just figured that out a few days ago too. I assumed that the guy in the photo was toradrake. I guess because he's the one taking the photo.

  17. toradrake Member


    I thought Yahoo did away with their directory o_O. CNN is a different type of directory... Its a news site... sites such as those have to change or they lose users quickly. Directories, like DMoz for instance, are used "mainly" for back links and primarily for old timers who have been using it for years. You don't change things on them or they get confused :p, I'm included in that reference. The younger generation are stuck on SE's and rarely ever use directories. Don't get me wrong. I would love to see them update their sites and make them nicer, but what could you do to prompt them to do so??

    ROTFLMAO LUCY! You got some explaining to do! Sorry guys... at the time I was filling out my profile, I was filling out my boyfriends profile in his twitter account that he just opened. I accidentally put some of his information in place of mine. I just never went back in and corrected it. Guess I should do that. The picture is of me and my boyfriend. So yeah... I'm a girl. I'm going to see if I can change my tag to Kevinkimers rather then toradrake also. My boyfriend does sit with me and we look over things together and he looks at things from a user perspective and I look at them from a designer and marketer perspective. So some of our post are a combination of both of us putting our perspective and opinions into one. Sorry guys for the confusion... hope your not TOO distressed over this. :p

    Billy likes this.
  18. Converse Active Member


    It's still here until the 31st.

    I believe that his point is that, like anything else, if web directories are going to survive into the future, they will have to attract a new audience. It is not the either-or choice that you're making it out to be. Even in 2000, when web directories were at their height, most people used search engines. Web directories offered something different, and people understood that then; in fact then, as now, we used search engines in order to find the sites that we are going to list in our web directories. Somehow, people have gotten the idea that they are supposed to choose between one or the other, and of course web directories would lose out, given that unnecessary choice.

    Every day, I search on a variety of topics in order to populate directory categories. In doing so, frequently I find that the most useful sites for a topic are buried deep within the search results, or I have to keep refining my search in order to find the best sites on a topic. Most searchers won't do that, either because they don't want to page through 97 pages of search results or they don't know how to refine their searches. The better web directories have done that, and their categories will contain useful sites for the topics that they include in their directory, although they may also contain some sites that are not necessarily the best, whose owners have paid to submit their site to the directory.

    On a given search term, you might get 589,000 results from Google, while a good directory may include only 25-50 sites. A directory user will look through all of them, while how many of the 589,000 Google results will you look at?

    True enough, except for the very real value that web directories can offer a site owner as far as traffic and authority goes, most people who are not already familiar with web directories are unlikely to try them out. This is why I have been arguing for quite some time now that web directories need to offer something else, such as actual information about the topics that make up their categories.

    A new look wouldn't hurt, either. When someone visits a site for the first time, it doesn't hurt at all if their first impression isn't, "Oh, it's just another web directory."

    Last edited: Dec 2, 2014
    SimplySidy likes this.
  19. SimplySidy Member


    @Jill , @toradrake -

    I do respect your opinions and I too understand the importance and relevance of web directories. I wish they live longer than me for sure :) as they are doing some good for some people if not all, today. But here is my look at the things -

    This is exactly what my point is. The modern generation is surely going to browse more via their handhelds and if these ancient greats do not migrate to new methodologies, they are surely going to become less useful - I mean, look at the scenario -

    1. Google and Other Search Engines already have a wider searcher's base than what the directories used to have, collectively. That is losing visitors who made web directories important.
    2. With this visitor(browser's or searcher's) rates dropping due to non-migration of technology to responsive designs, the rates will continue dropping and sooner or later they will get to ZERO
    3. With Dropping usage rates, why would businesses be interested to post/ submit to directories? Remember, many businesses get listed in local Directories to get noticed than to get any Ratings or Rankings.
    4. This will also mean loss of earnings - no visitors => no new business to be listed / registrations => no money or earnings for web directories

    I believe this will eventually kill the web directories.

    Some Web Directories may continue to be online, but with everything else going down, a majority will not be able to sustain the costs involved.

    The web directories should wake up if they have to live a longer life. Otherwise, it is a matter of time that they would become obsolete - agreed, the concepts might stay on for ever (as the CNN or some Yellow Pages which have adopted to the Minimal Design, responsive Websites etc), but the pure Web Directories thing might become a thing of the past.

    Converse likes this.
  20. Converse Active Member


    Well put, @SimplySidy

    I would add another point, though:

    5. When no one uses web directories to find anything anymore, their only purpose will be to sell back-links, and that would cause them to become irrelevant as an authority site.

    Henry Ford is reported to have said that his automobiles were available in any color, as long as it was black. Well, Ford had to change with the times, offering its cars in additional colors, and the auto industry has had to continuously come up with new models and to meet changing standards and demands in order to stay in business. Web directories need to rise to meet the challenge too.


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