Wow, it has been a year and people are apparently STILL referring to this for information. Well, I personally don’t use TM anymore (or Gaia Online for that matter) so I never bothered to update this article reflecting that, but I suppose I should now that it’s my most-commented-upon article.
This post is old and outdated and no longer reflects my current views on TinierMe. I personally think that now they are about equally bad.
Part One will focus on the differences in the website design- the first thing I noticed when I went to sign up for TinierMe suggested to me by a friend from highschool that I hang out with on deviantART and GaiaOnline. TinierMe is still in Open Beta and there isn’t much to do yet, but so far so good. It’s cute, fun and I love the interface. Here’s a comparison of the two “main profile” pages that appear for users when logged in and the two main pages that show up when a user reaches the site unregistered or before logged in. They show the best examples of layout.
(click to enlarge)
TinierMe’s site is cleaner and more minimalistic and modern. They picked a orange monochromatic scheme with light accents of green and gradients in greys and whites. It’s all very clean and well organized. My main page here includes a simple 3-column layout with a navigation bar to the far left, a space for links and content in the middle and my own personal panel to the far right. All of the major content sits neatly above the fold and it’s mostly text and small icons so it is not cluttered at all. The navigation panels on the left and right are consistent throughout the whole main portion of the site. It is, overall, a very nice, clean and well presented site that is easily navigated.
GaiaOnline’s site is packed with stuff. This page displays only the “My Gaia” page which shows my avatar, house, car and status on the left, and an RSS-type feed of information about my friends on Gaia, and other activities which I can set specifically to show by changing my Feed settings in the middle. My main navigation and avatar are located in the header at the top of every page. There are easily five or six different forms of navigation to be found, from drop-downs to links and tabs. Gaia Online recently updated the look of it’s user interface again to make it more, what I consider, Web 2.0-y. Things are rounded and shiny, but not at all what I would call clean and neat. There seems to be stuff everywhere and to a complete newbie this page alone would be a nightmare to navigate. Plus, GaiaOnline doesn’t seem to understand that all the best and most-used sites are going for the jell-o layout; none of that left-aligned crap that leaves 500 pixels of background pattern for me to stare at on the right.
TinierMe is still new and there aren’t any advertisements or promotions yet, so it’s bound to get more cluttered, but for now it’s very nice and impressive design-wise. Much more-so in my opinion than GaiaOnline, which is understandibly much larger and therefore more cluttered, but still, I would sacrifice a little content to regain simplicity, especially in the menus and navigation. Not to mention, Gaia doesn’t seem to have a color scheme anymore. I don’t know what happened, but for now I much prefer TinierMe to GaiaOnline. Opinions may change as the site evolves, we’ll see.