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Submitted By: Joticle
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The "" of Educational Content Sites

Joticle is a free centralized social learning platform that encourages shared community educational content sorted by topics. The site encourages the community made up of experts, students, and teachers to contribute to educational topics to expand it's library of educational content. Joticle offers a desktop web experience, along with an iOS tablet and mobile experience.

The iOS mobile app experience immediately takes you to a dashboard of seemingly random categories and a search bar. Immediately, the design and experience seemed fairly straightforward, albeit a bit dated looking. The very first topic was a history topic about the Ming Dynasty. Upon clicking on the topic, I'm greeted with a glossary of sorts. The overall experience of the app and navigating content really fails. It's 50/50 if tapping on a topic takes me to another list of sub-topics to choose from or to a content page. And when I do get presented to a content page, 99% of the time it's empty. I'm either presented with a blank page with a "No Data Available" shown, a page with a page title and no content, or a mysterious empty page with a page title and search bar and no instruction on what to do. More on this later...

The lack of content on virtually any of the topics I clicked on and even the lack of consistency of in the UI for empty pages makes the app even feel like it's less than broken... It doesn't even feel like an MVP, but a half-baked prototype. If I wasn't reviewing the app, I would have deleted the app within the first 2 minutes of using it. At this point, I'm actively trying to find content... any content. I navigate back to one of the pages in the Ming Dynasty with the mysterious search bar. There's literally no directly and nothing on the page to hint that the search is even active. It looks like a contentless and dead page. Deciding to give the search a shot, I type "FOOD" into the search, not expecting anything to happen. Lo and behold! I see the page start to populate with results and what do I get? One video result titled: "Food Theory: I SOLVED KFC'S Secret" and a second video result titled: "How Does KFC Protect it's Secret Recipe..."


And in case you think I'm just making this shit up... here's a screenshot.

Now I feel like I'm being trolled... The rest of the search results were random topics about the Ford Mustang and literally everything else that had nothing to do with the Ming Dynasty. I delete the search and type in the letter "C" to see what magical results I get and the top result was an article titled: "Cannabis Big Data." With the dismal first impression with the mobile experience, I decided to give the desktop experience a whirl. Immediately, the desktop version presented me with completely different and unexpected content than the mobile app and I wasn't sure why. It took a moment to realize that the desktop experience defaulted to latest Joticles. Clicking around, I realized that "Latest Joticles" was a bit misleading, as this seemed more like a collection of sponsors or business listings. Filtering back to "Trending Pods" I decided to click on the Ming Dynasty topic pod again and this time was greeted to actual content. Navigating down into the various sub-topics presented additional articles and content that was missing in the iOS mobile experience. Seems like there is an issue with the iOS version, which explains the underwhelming first impression I had using Joticle for the first time on the mobile app.

What Needs to be Fixed

  • Joticle on iOS mobile is broken. The UI seems to be broken and none of the content or jots seem to be displaying at all, giving the user a very incomplete and frustrating experience. Had I not given Joticle a second chance on the desktop, I would have thought Joticle was just a rough skeleton of a site or prototype. This is a very CRITICAL issue that needs to be fixed, or at the very least addressed by taking the iOS app down until it's fixed.
  • UI / UX patterns on iOS is confusing and incorrect. Page level search is really a site level search, but this may just be an issue with the iOS app just not functioning correctly at all
  • UI, branding, and visual design overall feels very dated. Very 90's clipart feel to the branding and the site looked like it was designed in MS Frontpage back in the early 2000's. Please hire a designer.
  • Content is lacking. Much of the content seems to be very surface level content and doesn't really go deep or bring any real value. I could make the case that a Wikipedia article about the same topic would give greater depth of information and content than the Joticle equivalent — which leads me to question the value of Joticle in the first place over simply searching on Wikipedia, instead?

What we don't like

  • Dependency on community sourced content. The depth and quality of content really suffers on Joticle. Unless Joticle builds more tools to scrape 3rd party online sources for content and mirrors content from Wikipedia and other sources, it's hard to see Joticle really scale content in the breadth and depth needed to be a serious contender in the educational content space.
  • Ad revenue and membership revenue is highly reliant on the breadth and depth of content Joticle can provide to attract a large and engaged audience. It's hard to see that without some injection of paid professional education content or curriculum exclusive to Joticle and reliance on community volunteerism for content. Beyond this being a passion project that pays for itself or brings modest "side income" for the founder, we just don't see this scaling and growing to an enterprise business. With better content, a minor acquisition could be considered, but would require a lot of work to build a niche audience by providing high quality niche content that just can't be done with the current methods of community attributed content creation.

In conclusion, I feel like this review is going to come across as very harsh just due to the failures of the iOS app experience leaving such a bad taste in my mouth that it may have influenced my desktop web experience of the Joticle, as well. With that said, I do stand behind the point that unless the app really ups it's game in it's visual design and branding, upping it's user experience, fixing the critical issue of the iOS app simply not working (seriously, remove the app from the iOS store until you can fix it), and really upping the quality and depth of the educational content, we really don't see how Joticle can really be more than just a hobby site. At best, it'll generate revenue to pay for itself and bring some side income, but needs serious work to make it a scalable enterprise business.

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