Zetamex redesign takes a step back

Zetamex, the second highest-rated OpenSim hosting company, has been repeatedly criticized for changing things up too much — price plans, offerings, management panels, even CEOs — all have changed repeatedly in the past few months, leaving users struggling to keep up.

Some of the changes have been for the better, others for the worse, but the additive effect has been simple confusion. CEO Timothy Rogers promised to reform his change-loving ways when he temporarily stopped accepting new customers exactly two months ago.

Now the Zetamex website is back up, and — yup, there are changes.

But before I go into the design itself, I have to point out that nothing on the site works yet. They’ve launched with an unfinished product.

There is no reason for a company — especially a tech company — to launch a half-finished website. This is what development servers are for. You develop off-line, test everything, run it past a copy editor and your grandma, and then you hit the button and make it go live.

I understand that sometimes things happen and sites go down, or unfinished sites go live. Zetamex, though, seems to make a habit of launching prematurely.

Old site versus new site

In July, Zetamex redesigned their website, streamlined the region order process, and began  offering $5 region rentals.

In July, Zetamex redesigned their website, streamlined the region order process, and began offering $5 region rentals.

My take on the site redesign at the time: “Looks very friendly and approachable, simple and clear pricing plans — very nice job!”

I would still have some minor quibbles — I wouldn’t be an editor if I didn’t. But, for the most part, I though the redesign was a great job, and made the company’s website look like a real site. Plus, they fixed most of the issues I pointed out in my previous review.

Top section of the new Zetamex home page.

Top section of the new Zetamex home page.

The new design has one of those really long home pages where you scroll down through things. Plus, the main image — the black rectangle above — is all animated. The worlds move around, a chalk drawing of a cloud shows up. It’s messy, there’s too many different fonts. It’s still better than the design they had at the beginning of the summer, but I wouldn’t consider it to be a better design than the previous one.

Plus, radical redesigns are worth it when the old design is obsolete. Maybe it looks amateurish, or is several years out of date, or just doesn’t do its job. But when you have a working design — as Zetamex did with its previous one — then the best strategy is incremental, well-tested improvements. Dramatic and unnecessary changes will actually cost you customers.

In particular, this redesign went from a more-or-less clear and straightforward website to a confusing and unclear one.

Zetamex hosts regions, and it hosts grids. Ideally, the Zetamex website should be able to sell land to anyone who shows up. If you didn’t know about OpenSim, didn’t know what Metropolis was, or what the OSgrid logo was, or what an “open grid” was — would you have any idea of what Zetamex offers?

If I were a hosting company, here is what I would put on my home page:

  • Create your own virtual world: no programming required, Second Life-style building tools, ready for the Oculus Rift
  • Rent land on existing virtual worlds: biggest choice of worlds, free starting regions, full access to hypergrid and Kitely Market

And I’d have illustrations that show the free starting regions, so it’s super clear what I’m offering. After all, the word “virtual” can mean a lot of different things to different people.

Back to the Zetamex home page. I scroll down, and the confusion grows.

Scrolling down to the center of the new Zetamex home page.

Scrolling down to the center of the new Zetamex home page.

Putting aside the grammar mistake in the headline, the descriptive text sounds like it’s for an advertising company, or a software development company, or an engineering company, or even a legal or accounting firm: “With Zetamex, you get a company that cares for each of our clients. We strive to come up with new and creative ways to help give our customers the edge. Let us help you with your project.”

It’s vague, and the images chosen to illustrate this vagueness are also very vague.

It does get a little better further down, though. There’s a section that lists the features that they offer, though, for some reason, they’ve put “forkable projects” above “toll free phone support” and “we give back to non-profit grids.”

Scrolling further still, you get to the fact that they have servers around the globe — but without an explanation of how this benefits customers by providing them with faster access to their worlds.

And, almost at the very bottom — customer testimonials! Customer testimonials are great for showing that a company is credible, but Zetamex undercuts this by using cartoon avatars instead of real photos, of the customers quoted. Especially if they’re trying to go after corporate clients, customer testimonials need to be as professional as possible.

 

maria@hypergridbusiness.com'

Maria Korolov

Maria Korolov is editor and publisher of Hypergrid Business. She has been a journalist for more than twenty years and has worked for the Chicago Tribune, Reuters, and Computerworld and has reported from over a dozen countries, including Russia and China.

  • hack13

    Due to the DNS attack that occured the other day, a DNS record change was made and flipped to one of our Dev servers. That site should not be front facing yet, as it is not yet complete. This issue has been rectified, that is no where near the finished product. We do respect your feedback, but we can’t wait till we launch with our actual press release explaining what we are doing.

    • Didn’t you have a clock counting down to the re-launch of Zetamex. And, from what I read, didn’t that clock already reach zero. December 10th Merrie Schonbach said ” have been eagerly watching Zetamex relaunch countdown http://zetamex.com and its showing all 0’s now…perhaps the countdown timer broke? Hey Tim whats up :)?” on her Google +. And now you claim that a “DNS record change was made and flipped to one of our Dev servers”. This isn’t exactly the way to instill public confidence in your service when you can’t even control your own system.

      How hard is it to create a website? I keep hearing this excuse week after week from companies that have way more programming and tech experience than I do, and yet I can whip up a “comparable” website in about a week (and have about half a dozen running right now I might add). Heck even the Corran Journal completely changed from a single grid e-newspaper into a metaverse wide production in just 3 days and I have ONE staff member.

      I have to agree with Maria, your original site design worked and constantly changing it only serves to confuse the public to the point of not wanting to go back. “Create something that works and stick with it” is the base model for most major companies in the world (just look at how many years the incandescent light bulb was on the market, and still fights to remain there).

      If you weren’t ready to launch then don’t put up a countdown timer. If anything put up a cheeky little blog site keeping your readers in the loop while still not committing to a solid deadline. And honestly, if the situation had been rectified we wouldn’t be having this discussion. The exact same website is running that Maria commented on over an hour ago (and 25 minutes since you posted that the website shouldn’t even be “front facing”).

      ~Winter Silversmith, Editor

    • MaryJane01

      Wow, now I am totally confused. Sunday the Zetamex site had a countdown that said it would be live in one day and some hours, then Monday it said it would be live in Zero days and Zero hours. Now we hear it wasn’t supposed to be live due to an attack that occurred on Dec.8th and was resolved a day after the countdown sat at Zero and the site was to be live. Are we to believe it was put live by error despite the DNS attack being resolved and that the timer for the new site to go live expired and the new site had been up since Thursday? I’m sorry but as a customer looking for a provider I’m not an idiot. It is rather obvious that after negative criticism the site was removed.

      • hack13

        Yes when we had it set to move to our production server, and then it ended up pointing to our dev. The production server, still has the old site up and running.

  • Maurermr

    Interesting that there site has been taken down again after this article was posted… I wonder if it will cost them more customers

  • Customer

    You got it so right maria thank you!..I wanted to use zetamex as my
    service provider but for the last year and half the website &
    pricing has pinged ponged all over the place and just has looked
    completely unstable.
    Tim is a nice guy but fails to see most of his customers are older and want to be involved in less risks

    I really cannot see anyone at this point hosting for me,the other providers have not one won me over so i live in Soas
    Dreamland never updates pricing or website info (lack of change),Sasso i seen enough to not even comment on them

    High
    Fidelity is coming with a possible multi-million dollar gold mine for hosting
    services but so far the only people who has a real game face on and
    ready to play in open sim is Kitely from my perspective.

  • Customer

    You got it so right maria thank you!..I wanted to use zetamex as my service provider but for the last year and half the website & pricing has pinged ponged all over the place and just has looked completely unstable.
    Tim is a nice guy but fails to see most of his customers are older and want to be involved in less risks

    I really cannot see anyone at this point hosting for me,the other providers have not one won me over so i live in Soas.