ThinkFree -- making it hard to sign up

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ThinkFree is an online office suite that promises one thing that others don’t—collaboration. I’m working on a set of Powerpoint slides with some other people and thought it would be nice to try an online tool instead of emailing the file around.

But they sure don’t make it easy to sign up. Trying from my Mac in Firefox 2, I filled out the signup screen and was greeted by a useless form error message. "Permission Denied"

signup error screenshot

No explanation of why. No suggestions how to fix it. Are they perhaps limiting the number of people who can sign up? Or did I make a mistake when completing the Captcha? There’s no way to know. They should read Simplified Form Errors.

The help files don’t mention the problem. But I notice in hte system requirements for OSX that Firefox 1.5 is required. I swap my user-agent string so the browser reports itself as Firefox 1.5 and try again. Still no dice.

Over to the Windows machine to sign up via IE7. This time it works. But the confirmation email that comes in is a multipart message with both text and HTML versions. Only the text version is blank, meaning my text-only email client can’t see it.

email confirmation screenshot

I’ve got to view the source of the HTML version to get the activation URL so I can start using the thing.

If it’s this hard to even sign up, how can it possibly be easy to use?

Charleston
December 11, 2006 1:23 PM

Geez, you'd think people would test this stuff in different browsers. I was trying out a similar project (salesboom) and none of the windows size correctly in Firefox or even let you adjust them to the correct size. Hence, the windows are unreadable and unusable. C'mon IT geeks from thinkfree, salesboom, and whatever "me too" collaboration tool that comes down the pipe. Online software services become commoditized so quickly (especially if Google creates something) that you need to get loyal customers. A product that is easy to use keeps customers from switching - especially those that do not like fiddling with technology. That is the market and if the forms can't even be filled out or the most basic commands used, that target market will be lost in the blink of an eye

digitalnomad
June 13, 2007 7:58 PM

Have to agree with you Adam. I had these same problems, and write blogs about this stuff. Now I too will have to give a bad report.

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