I decided to take a look at all the MSN content sites, and rank them on a 5 star scale. Things in consideration are: quality of site or QOS(ease of use, good site navigation, loads up right), quality of content or QOC(is it boring, too wordy, too unprofessional?), quality of design or QOD(is it ugly, beautiful) and that’s about it. So those are my 3 categories I’m ranking in.
So here’s my analysis of the MSN content sites:
A-List: (Show’s popular searches & popular selling things) – I personally think it’s dull. The site look a little unappealing, kind of bland. Plus are the top 5 most popular searches really the top 5? I have a hard time believing ‘autistic girls’ is a popular search. The site is just really a way to redirect you to other MSN content sites.
QOS: 2 QOC: 2 QOD: 1.5 AVG: 1.8
Air Tickets/Travel: (Site with travel articles, review of destinations, and air tickets) – I browse from here time to time. It’s ok. I just wish there were proper article tools. And there’s way too many Expedia deals/ads everywhere. It’s kinda annoying. And where’s the place where you can set up your own travel stuff on there? Like charts/maps of where you’ve been, easy to find way of putting input on hotels or cities or countries, and just anyway to interact on the site? I know this is MSN’s content, but couldn’t they open it up a bit for user?
QOS: 3 QOC: 4 QOD: 2.5 AVG: 3.16
Autos: (Site about cars) – I’ve been through here a couple of times. It’s also ok. They do provide some good stuff from time-to-time. The design isn’t half bad. It’s pretty good actually, like all the other MSN content sites with black themes. I don’t understand why the Local Traffic Map and Gas Prices doesn’t use Live Maps, instead of the old MapPoint technology, and why it’s so darn ugly to use and read through? Plus there’s a real lack of pictures and videos and info. about many cars on the site. They really need to work on it more.
QOS: 3.5 QOC: 2 QOD: 4.5 AVG: 3.3
Careers & Jobs: (Job-finding site and tips) – The site’s ok. It does what it’s suppose to do, find a job. And there are articles that give you tips, but they’re kinda squashed up. But finding jobs is really nice, especially with the filter they’ve got, and it’s pretty good in terms of finding a job. Not that I need one.
QOS: 3.5 QOC: 4.5 QOD: 3 AVG: 3.6
City Guides: (Site about places to go in your city) – The old one was much more better than it is now. The old one at least focused on events and places in your city. The articles you see today, are about a wide variety of cities in the U.S. – none of them are always in particular to your local city. I really wish the staff had a local team in each major city, writing articles about their particular city. And where can I find all the restaurants, clubs, libraries, dry cleaners, and see reviews and ratings about each of them? For a city guide, it’s not helpful.
QOS: 4 QOC: 1 QOD: 2 AVG: 2.3
Dating & Personals: (Finding other singles, and tips on love) – I’ve seen it a couple of times, and this is a real good site. Plus, unlike eHarmony, people don’t get rejected, and gay people are allowed on here. That’s way better service for most people. Not that depending on an online dating site is helpful. I haven’t really used it, but I did take a look. It’s pretty good actually.
QOS: 4.5 QOC: 4 QOD: 4 AVG: 4.1
Games: (casual game site) – I’ve been in and around Games. It’s pretty cool. You can try trial games, or play on the internet for free (with ads). You can also get badges, but they’re more for show and self-pride. They also recently launched GameSpring, and it’s pretty much a monthly subscription to all the games you want on the site. Pretty cool
QOS: 4.5 QOC: 5 QOD: 4 AVG: 4.5
Health & Fitness: (site with helpful health articles) – This is also another one of the better websites. I found a lot of good articles. I like it a lot. It’s pretty helpful. They always seem to update often. They pull a lot of content from many medical sites.
QOS: 4.5 QOC: 5 QOD: 3 AVG: 4.1
Horoscopes: (horoscopes/astrology site) – It’s an ok site. I took a quick look at every then and so. Not that I believe in it, it’s just for fun. It does pretty much what any horoscope site does. It does it pretty good.
QOS: 3 QOC: 4 QOD: 3.5 AVG: 3.5
Lifestyle: (site about things that interest specific groups) – It’s pretty much a site where you can find lots of neat articles and tips about things that might help you with life. There’s a women, men, and boomers (seniors) section. They’re all different. I of course prefer the men section. I like voting on the polls, browsing through some of the articles, it’s all pretty cool. It’s one of my favorites.
QOS: 4 QOC: 4.5 QOD: 4 AVG: 4.1
Maps & Directions: (site that offer free web maps & directions) – Ok, this is kind of a cheat. It’s not really a ‘MSN’ site. It just redirects you to Live Maps, with the Direction window open. I’ve already talked about it before, and it does a pretty good and decent job. I like it. Just wish they would fix up some stuff.
QOS: 3 QOC: 4.5 QOD: 4 AVG: 3.8
Money: (site offering financial info. and articles) – I’m not much of a business/finance guy, so I don’t visit often. Too many numbers for me. It looks ok, and the site’s kind of bland. It seems to offer a lot of stuff, and that’s cool. I haven’t really gone through this site much, so I’m just guessing what score it would make.
QOS: 4 QOC: 4.5 QOD: 2.5 AVG: 3.6
Movies: (site offering theater movie info.) – This is one of the sites I check often. MSN Movies has a pretty nice design, with great content. It does a pretty good job of finding the movies I want to find, gives me the times, and whatnot. I really like it. Of course, it doesn’t offer full movie info. like IMDB, but it does the basics really well and sometimes more.
QOS: 5 QOC: 4 QOD: 5 AVG: 4.6
Music: (site offering music news and some music tracks and videos) – MSN Music is also a very pretty cool site to hang around. They’ve got music news, and they offer from time to time, some music singles you can pop-open on WMP. Not to keep of course. There’s also sample tracks you can listen to, pics, and your usual music stuff. I’m not that deep into music, but it’s pretty cool.
QOS: 4.5 QOC: 4 QOD: 5 AVG: 4.5
News: (site offering world news from MSNBC) – All in all, I usually like NBC and it’s affiliate networks, even MSNBC on TV. But MSNBC on the web really sucks. There’s tons of ads, including the hover-text ads (ugh). And they don’t utilize the page margins properly. It has good news, but the layout of it all really kills it. If only they could improve the design layout of MSNBC.com, it would feel more welcoming to read. Content is good, design is bad.
QOS: 3 QOC: 4 QOD: 1.5 AVG: 2.8
Real Estate: (site related to articles/news about real estate and development) – I don’t care much about home improvement, home development or anything like that. But it seems like a good site with lots of articles about it. I guess they would come useful to anyone interested in it.
QOS: 3 QOC: 4 QOD: 2.5 AVG: 3.1
Shopping: (site for shopping online and comparing deals across stores) – Ok, I just seriously don’t even want to bother going to this site. It’s just looks so un-friendly. I’d have better luck going to Amazon.com and comparing deals there. Sorry, but MSN shopping has always seemed like a dud to me. One that ought to be scrapped.
QOS: 1.5 QOC: 2 QOD:1.5 AVG: 1.6
Slate: (partnership site with magazine-style with news) – It’s a somewhat interesting online magazine site. I’ll definitely give it points for style. But what’s the deal with so many criticizing articles? I’m not much of a politics person, but I hate one-sided news agencies. I don’t care if it’s liberal or conservative, it’s just wrong. Can’t 2 equal sides be represented? I’ve noticed liberal articles are usually attacking the government or something, and it’s always making fun of, and it’s just something I don’t want to bother reading. Too negative to me. Plus it’s not a real good partnership site. If you don’t come to Slate directly from MSN, there’s no MSN banner links, and MSN logo anywhere. By default, there’s an Ask.com search box, and Ask.com ads all the way. Some partnership that is.
QOS: 4 QOC: 2.5 QOD: 4.5 AVG: 3.6
Spaces: (social blogging network site) – Another cheat. It’s really a Windows Live service, not MSN content. I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again, Live Spaces is a great place to blog and make a few friends, and have your own personal web page. But Microsoft insists it’s a social networking site, when I can’t view any local community groups, register my high school or college, or really connect with anyone I know. So it’s a dud in that sense. It’s good, but not so as a social network.
QOS: 4 QOC: ? QOD: 4 AVG: 4
Sports: (sports news site) – I visit every so often. I’m not much of a big fan of FoxSports. More of an ESPN person. But it provides some good articles, host lots of sports (not as much as ESPN though), and it’s pretty ok. I was just kinda wishing MSN made some deal with ESPN instead of MSN. But I think ESPN is owned by Disney (who knows why?), who has a board director with Apple or something like that. So Microsoft deals seem like a no. But this is just websites of course. So who knows. I don’t like Fox at all.
QOS: 3.5 QOC: 3.5 QOD: 3 AVG: 3.3
Tech & Gadgets: (site related to tech news) – This pretty much is ‘all’ stories reposted from sites like CNET and PC World. So it’s pretty disappointing. I’m only interested in the poll and some of the highlight articles displayed on the frontpage. It’s pretty disappointing.
QOS: 2.5 QOC: 1.5 QOD: 2 AVG: 2
TV: (site related to TV news and episode series) – I like MSN TV. All of MSN Entertainment is cool. There’s some neat TV news everyday, and it provides a pretty good database of TV shows and series. It lacks a dedicated community beyond the message boards though. Users can’t put up reviews of each episode, rate TV show or series, add trivia or anything to it. It’s all done by MSN so that’s sad. I still prefer TV.com to find all my TV episode info., but if MSN made a larger community push, they could really do wonders. I pretty much only check it for showings.
QOS: 4 QOC: 3.5 QOD: 4.5 AVG: 4
Weather: (shows weather status in cities around the world) – I like MSN Weather. It’s pretty simplistic. I can find weather anywhere, and they have pretty good info. about weather. You can also save the weather for your favorite cities, and see them at a glance when you enter the site. Of course you can find weather info. virtually anywhere (on your desktop [like I do], TV, newspaper, out the window, etc.) but MSN Weather is pretty neat in itself. Although I’m not sure how reliable Foreca is compared to the National Weather Bureau.
QOS: 4 QOC: 4 QOD: 4 AVG: 4
White Pages: (site providing white page info. on any local area) – Boring. I’d have better luck finding another site. Looks so bland, full of ads (not surprising when there isn’t real content), and is really that hard to put some good design in it? Like a logo with a white book and white pages? Something? And why does the Yellow Pages tab revert you to the Yellow Page site on MSN? Or why is it even placed like that in the White Pages site? Weird. And the layout of the info. is so ugly. Even Intelius (the white pages provider for MSN) does a better job in the design dept.
QOS: 2 QOC: 2.5 QOD: 1 AVG: 1.8
Yellow Pages: (site providing yellow pages info. to any particular area) – Same with White Pages – boring. The page you come to looks so bland. At least the results look decent and nice. They’re from SuperPages, one of the highest rated Yellow Book search sites. They even use Live Maps, and do a good job on it. So content wise, it’s pretty cool. Design is a bit lacking when SuperPages isn’t involved.
QOS: 3 QOC:4.5 QOD: 2.5 AVG: 3.3
Other MSN sites not mentioned in the list of the homepage:
Entertainment: (site providing entertainment news) – Pretty much a mash-up of other MSN Entertainment sites, like Music, Movies, TV. It’s pretty neat too.
QOS: 4 QOC: 4.5 QOD: 5 AVG: 4.5
Groups: (community sites) – Lame. Whatever happened? It’s like a flashback from the 90’s, and never got updated. It’s still not updated like the other MSN sites. And it’s sad they tossed Chatrooms out of there. It just looks so lame, that I’m not going to even go through it. I say that MSN brings it back. Rebuild Chatrooms and make it have lots of feature and look nice. Then rebuild Groups so that it’s better than Yahoo!’s or Google’s Groups, and integrate into Live Spaces, as Windows Live Groups. That way, there’s at least some community place on Live Spaces, and Groups doesn’t have to die like this. MSN Chat (rebuilt) and Windows Live Groups (on Live Spaces).
QOS: 1 QOC: 1.5 QOD: 0.5 AVG: 1
MSN Mobile: (site feature MSN Mobile goodies) – MSN Mobile is actually a pretty good site. Very clean, and a pretty good design. Easy to navigate through, and I like it. Better than most other sites. However, as of 8/7/07 the Ringtones Tab leads to the ugly old MSN UI. Otherwise than that, it’s great. But in a world where people want to view real web pages, instead of basic info at a glance, there’s no telling what the future of MSN Mobile will be like.
QOS: 4 QOC: 4 QOD: 3.5 AVG: 3.8
Dial-Up: (site offering MSN Dial-Up service) – I thought the side would be awful, but it’s actually not so bad. In design that is. But as the world moves forward, nobody wants dial-up anymore. And the rates at which MSN is offer it seems ridiculous. $21.95 after the trials? What a scam. And I’ve heard AT&T or other services offering DSL at lower prices than that. That’s pretty sad. And it’s peculiar why they offer McAfee Security instead of Live OneCare. I seriously think this needs to be scrapped. Dial-up is like dead in America.
QOS: 3.5 QOC: 3 QOD: 4 AVG: 3.5
Greetings: (e-card service from partnership with American Greetings) – Site is pretty lame. All the really good stuff is in the paid subscription option. I think there are better eCard site than this. It also still has the old MSN UI.
QOS: 2 QOC: 3 QOD: 1.5 AVG: 2.5
Encarta: (site with educational articles/quizzes/tips) – I really want to say that I like Encarta, but I can’t. I mean all this info. can be found on Wikipedia for free! With even more info. And Encarta isn’t always up-to-date so fast like Wikipedia. In terms of Encyclopedia info., Wikipedia has the edge. And most of the other stuff and educational ‘services’ can be found on other sites. I really like the style/looks of Encarta, but it just doesn’t have anything really good for me to stick with it. Luckily, I have some free subscription that came with Student 2007.
QOS: 4 QOC: 3 QOD: 4.5 AVG: 3.8
Ok, that’s all the sites I’m going to bother reviewing with. There’s a few other little MSN sites out there, but they’re not so important for me to put up. So there you have it. Sadly, most MSN sites just don’t have good content, or they don’t have good design for people to see. The perfect site has good content + good design. There’s only a few sites that have this touch (namely the MSN Entertainment sites), so it’s kinda sad. I’m hoping MSN can kick itself back up, and start throwing more better content and design into it. Or there sites won’t even be bothered with.
Based on average rank, the top 5 sites you might be most interested on MSN would be:
1. Movies 2. Music 3. Games 4. Entertainment 5. Lifestyle
The least 5 sites you’ll be interested:
1. Groups 2. White Pages 3. Shopping 4. A-List 5. Tech & Gadgets
So there you go. I hope you appreciate my long and tiresome review of the MSN content sites.