An Open Letter to – Surely It’s Time For Some Improvements?

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Dear Craig Newmark,

Like many others, I have been a huge fan of Craigslist for many years, and its helped me out many times – selling  furniture, finding a place to live, selling my camera, and more. But enough is enough. I just can’t take it anymore. I know you are trying to be a ‘non-profit’ organization, but your website has been pretty much untouched in 5 years. And unfortunately, its beginning to show its signs of aging. And its beginning to frustrate me (and probably many others).

There are SO many things that could be added to your site to help improve it – ever heard of web 2.0 for example? And you could be making more money too! So, being a website optimizer, I thought I would share with you my laundry list of things that I would LOVE to see improved on

1 – Improve your search filters. They really are pretty antiquated on Craigslist (you can’t deny it), and they really doesn’t allow you to get very specific. For example, when I want  to see 1 bedroom places, I only want 1 bedroom places – not all bedrooms 1 and above, like it currently does (oh and yes I’m moving).

2 – Allow browsing by map location and ZIP code.  Allowing a user to add their zipcode in their posting would be a great step towards being able to search posts this way. Ulitimately, an interactive map of search results would be a great additional way to browse results (much like Yelp offers)!

3 – Offer saved search ability – this is one of my biggest peeves with Craigslist. Why do I have to keep re-entering my search criteria everytime I come back to the site? Surely this isn’t that hard to implement, and would save me and other users a great amount of time and frustration.

4 – Get new search results emailed to you. This would save us all SO much time – we would no longer have to keep wondering how often to come back and re-search to see if there are new matching search results. To take this even further, you could even offer new matching results by RSS feed or SMS text message. Wouldn’t that be cool?

5 – Introduce image thumbnails in search results. This makes it easier to find things visually without having to click on each result. Offering a ‘photo gallery’ view would be even better – that way you can see even more results on one page. Even your main rival website, does a great job of this.

6 – Add social media links so you can share with friends. This really is a web 2.0 standard now – being able to easily send useful posts to your friends, through email, IM, text message, or even blog, is surely a must on Craigslist. Its pretty easy to install something simple like Share It  if you want an easy option.

7 – Allow embedding of video into posts. I personally would love this – think of how great it would be to see a video tour of a place for rent, or a video of a car for sale – would definitely save you some wasted trips! A video is worth more than a hundred pictures! Come on Craigslist – YouTube has been big for years now – get with the times and offer video embed!

8 – Search by expiring listings. This would allow you to search for urgent sales, or posts with time sensitivity. And allowing users to expire their postings at periods less than the 14 days by default would be great too.

9 – Make an official craigslist iphone app.  iPhone apps are becoming wildly popular and are very useful, like the Yelp and Facebook apps. A Craigslist app would be seriously great for checking out listings while driving around. There are already a few 3rd party ones, so why not make an offical one?

10 – Sell premium listings to benefit users and you. Why not let users have the option to make their results stand out a little? Ebay offers this – it offers a great way of drawing attention to listings in need of love, and it would be a great way for you to make extra revenue too!

So there we have it Craig. I don’t hate Craigslist, I still love it, and certainly couldn’t live without it. It could just be SO much better. Hopefully you like my suggestions – I know i’m probably not alone in making some of these either! And personally, I wouldn’t mind even seeing a few ads on the site, if thats what it takes to get these changes up and running on Craigslist. What do you say?

Oh… and one last thought – how about having a real logo?

In anticipation,

Rich Page
Owner of Rich Page: Website Optimizer Blog