Installing and Using Meeplace, the Business Review CMS [con't]
The Meeplace User Experience
When you get Meeplace configured and running and you add some businesses, you will see the true functionality of this software. I added a Steak and Shake restaurant, along with a review, and this is how it appeared in my browser:
For each listing (and it can be stores, attractions, restaurants, golf courses, tattoo parlorspretty much any type of business), Meeplace shows the user the following details:
- Name of the business
- A Five Star rating (i.e., the rating is from 1 to 5 stars as determined by other users)
- A picture of the business
- A map of the location of the business
- The address of the business
- Business hours
- Price range
- The current weather at the location of the business
- Reviews of the business
- A "Share Listing" button bar (with buttons for Facebook, Twitter, MySpace, StumbledUpon, Digg, Delicious, and Mixx)
The software was designed to be search engine-friendly. During installation, it sets up to SEO-friendly URLS based on the settings you entered in the Admin console. The settings specify the way your business permalinks are set up (i.e., the way the URL will appear in the browser), the description and keywords for your site, and variables such as phone, zip, address, name, etc.
Pros and Cons of Meeplace
Meeplace is a terrific way of getting a business review site up and running with minimal cost and development. By using your own graphics and design along with Meeplace, you can fit the software's look to suit your own needs, and you will have a professional, functional, and extremely useful business review site. This is the kind of software that is making the web an interactive experience that grows along with the site's community. It can be an effective way to bring consumer awareness to businesses, and can be a great way for users to find a specific businesscomplete with reviewsto help them make decisions on a day-to-day basis. The interface is clean, effective, and sharp enough to attract the eyes of the social networking crowd. Have a look yourself via their Demo Site (you can demo both the frontend and backend of the software).
On the downside, the developers of Meeplace work in a Meeplace-centric environment, meaning that they see everything through the eyes of a developer who uses the software on a regular basis. They know how to use it, what it is asking for, and what they need to do when issues arise. The rest of us are left to operate on a "learn as you go" basis with the software, and there are some usability issues we must content with on the admin side. If you wish to edit a business listing and change the city, for instance, you are required to know the ID number of the city and that ID number is not listed anywhere.
Another issue is the lack of mobile support, which is a must-have for this type of web site. While users will be happy to use a Meeplace review site from their desktop, they will be even happier and more inclined to use it if it is available on their mobile devices, while they are on the go looking for a particular business.
With updates coming out on a weekly basis, I suspect that Bryan will have these issues addressed not long after this review comes out. I look forward to seeing what he, and Meeplace, come up with next.
Original: Mar. 8, 2010