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

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  • While I agree with several of your suggestions above, I think some are just features that would add bloat to an easy to use system. Regarding #3 and #4, you can currently save an RSS feed of a search and get updates every day, or anytime you want, from a feed reader or email client that can work with RSS (most of them). I use this feature all the time and find it much more convenient than actual emails (they’d get lost in my hundreds of emails a day).

    I completely agree Craigslist could really use an official iPhone application, one that’s as simple and fast as the website. Or even just an iPhone optimized website… I don’t even need the application. Just an easier way to browse Craigslist on my iPhone…

    As for emedding videos, you can insert HTML so you could easily put a link to a YouTube video — you may be able to embed it too. I haven’t tried. I’m afraid if they did add a lot of features like embedded videos and social media links it would just increase the amount of spam exponentially. I like being able to browse quickly and find what I’m looking for.

  • Rich – I would like to see some sort of payment system implemented. My biggest beef with CL is negotiating for payment.

    Very few are loyal and many times I have verbally agreed to hold tickets for another party which often ends with them finding cheaper tickets or just flaking, leaving me stuck.

    We need a system where if interested a small retainer fee is held to indicated someone is serious about the purchase.

    This would lock both parties in on the sale and save lots of hassles!!!!

  • Move over Craigslist, here comes iList.

  • Jeff

    I think if they add a bunch of new features it will slow down the site. The thing I like about the site, in addition to the volume of posts, is the speed searches take. I am usually able to find what I need quickly.

  • I agree to a certain extent with your assesments, especially the ability to embed videos. I suppose CL’s attitude is.. if ain’t broke, don’t fix it.

    As a business owner that occasionally uses Craigs List to promote, I have found a decent workaround to embedding video while stilla chieving click throughs.

    Take a screen snapshot of your video and crop the image so that only the player is showing. Using the right image and link code to your video, post that into your Craigs List ad. My CTR went through the roof practicing this technique. (I host my own videos to track)