I decided against delaying this post until next weekend, because this way it comes before the press release and will inform people (potentially) before the new version is pushed out.
I’ve been sitting on the new version of WOT for a little while now, after having been invited to the beta-test team (thanks guys!) on April 15. Almost a week has gone by (well, five days), and I feel I have played around with it enough to form a reasonably complete opinion.
First of all, I’d like to say that the new rating icon is wonderful and much better than the one in the previous version. That little bust (it was head and shoulders, to be precise) was really difficult to use, since there was no centerline to judge from. The dot is much easier to use!
The rating bar now changes from appearing convex to appearing concave when you rate that particular component. (One could also say it dims, but either description works, in my opinion.) It makes a good at-a-glance indicator of whether or not a particular category will carry your input. There is also a message displayed beneath each component’s bar if your rating differs from the averaged value from other WOT users, enticing you to leave a comment on the site.
That brings me to a little sidebar here. The WOT site has undergone a major overhaul, now appearing much more like McAfee SiteAdvisor’s (rel="nofollow"; sorry, McAfee) in the information provided. The new website scorecard feature is what I’m talking about. There is data on popularity, a link to the WHOIS entry for that domain, detailed rating information with graphics that mirror the add-on’s rating popup, and a section for comments and (something SiteAdvisor doesn’t do) references.
This new “references” feature is particularly interesting. It takes mentions of a site from Digg, Wikipedia, del.icio.us, and a multitude of other places and displays a summary of that activity right on the domain’s scorecard. Sites mentioned in Wikipedia, for example, are rather unlikely to be bad; domains bookmarked on del.icio.us or submitted to Digg are much less likely to be spam. I think it’s an especially good new feature.
Besides the “references”, the comments provide a space for users to provide free-form feedback about the site. There are a bunch of categories to place your comment in, ranging from “Useful, informative” and “Entertaining” to “Spam” and “Browser exploit”. The categories of comments are summarized and graphed (!) above the comment display area to give a general idea of the overall user feel for the site.
With all these improvements, it’s hard to imagine that there could be things missing, but there are. (Hey, I’m not paid to write this. I can say whatever I want! 🙂
Most importantly, I would like to see a way for webmasters such as myself to claim their sites. That is one thing I think McAfee SiteAdvisor does well. In fact, it would be doubly useful if WOT allowed verification via <meta /> tags in the site header as an alternative to file upload. Google Webmaster Tools (or Google Sitemaps, as it was called before) has both options, and for free hosts that don’t allow file uploads (<cough>Blogger</cough>) the meta tag option is very useful.
Now that I think more about it, the only other thing I can think of is a minor interface change. In the old version of WOT, clicking in the border to the side of a rating bar caused a rating of 100 or 0, but now those ratings are difficult to enter as the borders are no longer clickable areas. If there’s still time, I’d love to have that back. For some sites, a rating of 97 or 4 is insufficient.
The Optimistic Conclusion
All told, the WOT 3.0 upgrade is definitely worthwhile. You can grab the update from the beta page if you don’t want to wait for the release. With the last two updates, I’m looking forward to WOT 4.0 coming out, whenever that happens. What will they think of next?
Update (04/23): Sami Tolvanen, one of the WOT founders, comments below that the clickable borders have been restored in the latest version of WOT 3.0, which is also now out of beta. Thanks for letting me know, Sami; and you’re quite welcome for the review. 🙂