Review: Fanaticly Website and App for SYTYCD

About a month and a half ago I was approached to review a website and corresponding app for iPhone. Interesting proposition to be sure, but something I don’t usually do… I can be harsh with my reviews, blunt and to the point. I have no qualms in exposing what I do not like about something, but at the same time I will acknowledge when something is done right.

This is no different, there are some aspects of either the website or the app that I dislike, but there are also some aspects of the website or app that I truly liked…

So beyond the break I will provide my impressions in regards to the app and the website. After my impressions there will be a quick line or two for the positives, negatives and the bottom line for both the app and the website. At the end of this post will be my final thoughts and what I would love to see down the road… preferably sooner than later.

IPHONE APP: Fanaticly for SYTYCD
I use my iPad far more than I use my iPhone, so when I downloaded the app via iPad I realized that the app was designed strictly for the iPhone. I never did like that… but that minor complaint aside. I really like the breakdown of the app.

Across the bottom of the screen is the primary menu:
The Guide: features everyone that has graced the SYTYCD stage
Music: list of all the songs that have been featured on SYTYCD after Las Vegas Callbacks
Favorites: list of any routines that the user wishes to have easy access for
Live: features a countdown to the next episode, available to vote via the app, and ability to chat with other Fanaticly Chat users
Updates: Any updates to the Fanaticly App.

The features I will touch upon are The Guide, Music and Favorites List.

First thing you see is the Guide, the top half is every dancer, choreographer, judge that has graced the So You Think You Can Dance stage. You select any person and you get an idea of when that particular person has been featured on the show be it as a Judge, Contestant, Choreographer or Performer. You have the basics of a bio… aka hometown, dance style and whenever applicable a one word description of their position on the show. If available then the individual Twitter account would also be connected to the App.

In each mini-category you get a list of all the routines that featured that individual by song. If there is a YouTube video available then it would be shown. What is also nice is that if available then the song is also connected to iTunes so you could purchase it as well. If there is a particular routine that you really like you could tap on the star (found in the upper right hand corner) and it would automatically be placed in the “Favorites” list for easier access in the future.

The Music menu item is essentially a list of all the songs that has been featured on the show after Las Vegas Callbacks. You can either go through the entire list of songs or go by season and select the music you’d to see the routines associated with that piece or purchase the song via iTunes.

Positives: Visually pleasing to the eye, easy navigation, this is definitely an app that I’ll use to show favorite routines to my friends when talking about SYTYCD.

Negatives: This is an app designed and created specifically for the iPhone, I would much prefer the app to be adapted if not recreated for the iPad. However, most of the music that readers and fans of the show are always asking about are those that are featured during the City Auditions and Las Vegas Callbacks. Since the app focuses on the time after Las Vegas Callbacks this is understandable, however, expanding to the various dancers’ time via the audition process could be something worthwhile.

Other items that appear to be missing that may be worthwhile to integrate based on what they have already include:
– “News” items, articles despite them being on the website
– integration between the contestants and the FB feeds for the dancers/choreographers
– easy access to the City Auditions and Las Vegas Callbacks

Bottom Line: I could see a lot of good reasons to use this app, but since there are still kinks to work through, there is still much that can be improved. Since the phone numbers changed this season, there was no way to see if voting works. I didn’t get a chance to check the Chat feature either, so a review for that would have to wait.

It’s not a perfect app, when looking for YouTube videos it appears to be a basic search query so if you are looking for a specific routine and it doesn’t exist, you are out of luck. However, for the most part a lot of the searches appear to be right on target.

WEBSITE: Fanaticly for SYTYCD
At first glance of the website I was beyond overwhelmed. It is far too busy, it isn’t very easy to understand/grasp what is going on or what the website is presenting. The most I was able to glean is that the majority of the page is a massive “wall”, and menu items and categories are found on the right hand column of the screen.

After a little while of just staring dumbstruck at the computer screen I begin to realize how everything is laid out: The primary content of the website is all the images, YouTube videos that can be found on the internet in virtual real time. All of these images and videos (gleaned from primarily Twitter and YouTube) are all naturally connected to any dancer and choreographer that has graced the live shows through the entire series of So You Think You Can Dance.

On the right hand column there is information for their iPhone app for SYTYCD, the “database”, news from various outlets, and other links. Since three of the four primary menu items are fairly self explanatory, I will focus on the navigation and content of the “database”.

The Database is broken down by season, and within each season the page is broken down by
– individual dancer
– individual weeks of the actual competition
– within the weeks: every individual dance / performance that has appeared that week
– within the weeks: the solos of the dancers that have appeared in the bottom
– individual judges and choreographers that have appeared on the show throughout the season
– any guest dancers that have appeared on the show

When you click on any individual dancer the page presents a breakdown of every song that the individual has either performed as a contestant or as a performer (when it is not their season). For judges, any judg that has performed on the show is presented as well. What is different in this case is that instead of describing the routines the individual has participated in, you are given each individual song that has featured that particular individual and from there are any and all related videos that connect to both the song and the individual in some capacity.

At the top of every individual’s page, is a series of pictures that are gleaned from the internet that is connected with the dancers in some capacity or another which is another interesting feature for this website.

If you are looking for a particular Group routine… you can’t go by dancer, you have to look via choreographer which I found to be a rather ingenious way of searching.

Positives: a multimedia heavy website, if you are looking for videos of your favorite routines, this is probably the quickest way to find them. If you are just looking for anything that is related to their time on the stage AFTER Vegas Callbacks, then the navigation is user friendly enough to find what you need.

Negatives: when you want to learn more about a contestant PRIOR to being on the show (meaning Vegas Callbacks and City Auditions) there is no easy way to find videos on them without knowing that you’re looking for. I would love to see a section for “Auditions” for each of the contestants because I found that over the years fans want to learn all they can about a contestant prior to their time on the actual competition stage in Hollywood.

Another negative for me is the massive media wall, it does come off as rather overwhelming, though once one comes to terms with the presentation navigation becomes rather easy. However, it took time for me to even consider looking around because the initial presentation “scared” me away enough to not really consider a second glance.

Bottom Line: If the web developers find a way to design the opening page so it doesn’t come off as insanely overwhelming for the casual web surfer, I think they have something going on here.

I definitely prefer the iPhone app over the website and despite the lack of media tied to the City Auditions and the Las Vegas Callbacks, the app is something I would use down the road. Also, because I am primarily an iPad user, having an app catered more for the iPad would also be a plus down the road if at all possible.

Though the app and the website appear to be well thought out, there is still a lot of growth and development left before this is an app that is fully featured and well integrated.

As for the videos provided on the app/site? As mentioned briefly above, it appears that when looking for the videos and photos it is based on search queries. So if you are looking for a specific video and it is not on YouTube you are out of luck for the most part. Despite this deficiency what is available works for the most part.

All in all, this is a very useful app/site… but far from being complete.

Since I haven’t had a chance to test out the “Live” features on the iPhone app, that will be something I will be working on come Wednesday. When that happens I will provide another review that ties in with those features.