Just my thoughts

Does make sense?

Skittles unveiled their new corporate site to much applause and some disdain by the Twitter community. Taking a cue perhaps, from, they have reduced their site to be nothing but a navigational overlay box on top of content provided by social network sites.

screen grab: homepage on March 2, 2009

This works by making their:

Simple is best right? Maybe not.

So what is the upside for Sktittles? Well today, at least, they have generated plenty of free publicity. Going forward, they will have a lot of fresh content and perhaps some ongoing publicity.

But how about the downside? There are plenty of thoughts that pop into my head.


How will they be perceived by the social networking community or the social network sites themselves? Within several hours of launching their Flickr page was account "missing" and a "neutrality" warning was posted at the top of their Wikipedia article.

screen grab: the article notice that appears at the top of Wikipedia's Skittles page.

Skittles is "borrowing" a lot of bandwidth from these sites, for free, and what are they providing in return? Users of social network sites provide content, sometimes very interesting content, and that, along with increasing per-page impressions is the fee they pay for using a free service. What is Skittles giving back to the community?


The biggest part of being a part of "the social", and the part that companies often don't get, is that it's about 2-way communication. Kudos (excuse the pun), to Skittles for allowing their customers to have an unfiltered voice, but where are they in the conversation? We want to hear Skittles interact with their customers, not just hear ourselves talk about them.


What is the experience for many of Skittle's potential customers? For instance, you now have to be 13 years old to view the site. And even if excluding kids from a candy store makes sense, what about the folks that are Web savvy, but not social network savvy. Perhaps this site will be a little weird to them. Which leads me to the biggest issue, usability.


Is the site usable? We all know that when considering usability, we must first consider our audience. Some would even go as far as saying that we can limit to a specific target audience, not just any possible site visitor. If we suppose what a target audience for Skittles might be, and even if that audience is entirely composed of social network aware individuals, would they find the site useable?

Well, next we would need to know the tasks the audience might engage in. Let's also suppose it's the following:

So, in 3 tasks that I picked, the site only covers one well. But in addition, I see some other major usability hurdles:

screen grab: pop-up explaining how to navigate away from their site.

Lastly, while not a usability issue, it is odd that a promotional site would ask you to accept their terms and conditions before they tell you about their product. Given the nature of the content that may appear, I certainly understand the reason, but it seems like a big hoop for someone to jump through just to view your site.

To sum it up, I would say the new makes a great meme and a is perhaps a bit of Internet history, but to me, the site doesn't make sense. While I think that companies should be involved in social networking, it's very important how they approach it.

I can't wait to see what my colleagues at BrandLogic think about the impact this site has on the Skittles brand. And I would love to hear what you think. Please leave me your comments.

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