IBM has blended its informational Web sites for Lotus professionals, Notes.net and Lotus Developer Network, into a single site called the Lotus Developer Domain (LDD). The company is redirecting the old Lotus links to pages on the new site, and redesigning and renaming Lotus newsletters and other documents.
Domino users are divided over the change.
A SearchDomino site poll (as of press time) found that 40% of respondents did not like the new site, while 29% like the changes they've seen. Another 20% haven't looked, or are indifferent to the change.
Users who don't like the new site complain that they're being made the targets of a heavy-duty marketing push by Big Blue.
"IBM is using the new site to market its products to Lotus users, at the expense of the functionality and ease-of-use of the old Lotus sites," said Alex Elhomsi, CEO of Trilog Group Inc., a Domino developer based in Woburn, Mass.
One user believes Lotus software downloads are not what they used to be.
"Every single time I go back to do a download, the site asks me some marketing opt-in questions," reads one complaint in the Domino/Notes Sound Off forum.
The user also said IBM is cluttering the LDD home page with extra marketing links.
Barb Mathers, IBM's Lotus Developer Domain site manager, concedes that parts of the new site are closely tied into IBM's marketing efforts.
"There is an effort at IBM to consolidate downloads through one download portal site," said Mathers.
Users of the consolidated site must answer marketing questions before making a download.
Additionally, visitors must sign up for a second Web account at the IBM download portal site before they can download Lotus software.
But Mathers pointed out that Notes.net user accounts will remain valid "until we complete work, that is already underway, to consolidate the Web accounts."
Users are also griping about navigating a new and different LDD homepage, but some say it's a small price to pay for a more comprehensive and better-organized resource.
Mathers said the improved centralization of Lotus information is only the beginning for Lotus Developer Domain. Her development team plans to use the site as a working demonstration of Lotus database and collaborative tools.
"We're about to launch a new site search feature that uses Domino Domain search technology," she said.
Mathers also said her team plans to incorporate Sametime, Discovery Server and WebSphere Portal Server into the site.
Is it just the initial "resistance to change" reaction? Some users may never be happy with the Lotus Developer Domain.
"The Notes.net content is more crammed and sometimes runs off the right side of my screen," said Gary Lowe, a technology consultant at Ottawa, Ont.-based Clarica Life Insurance Co. "So far [the site] has only caused me grief."
But Gartner analyst Simon Hayward thinks Domino users should lighten up, and cut IBM a little slack over the new site.
"Sure the new Web site is not perfect, but the old ones were horrible!" said Hayward. "This is a step in the right direction. Let's press IBM to improve the new stuff, rather than keep complaining about how it's different from the past."
Mark Baard is a contributing writer based in Milton, Mass.
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