In some ways, the vortex of Ravelry takes away a lot of time on different craft websites. It’s a one-stop shop for most of what I need when it comes to knitting and crafty chat. So when people started to chat about a couple new craft websites that (to them) seemed a bit pastichey or Ravelry copycats, I checked them out. In the interests of journalism (and a long-time crush on Consumer’s Reports) I joined both websites.
Busymitts is a website devoted to sharing all kinds of different crafts, knitting, papercraft, crochet, beading, etc. It seems sort’ve like a glorified Flickr group, in which photographs of finished crafts can be uploaded, looked at and commented on. It’s newly minted in this year of 2008. You do have to put your email on a waiting list, but I received an invitation very quickly, in a day or less. It was designed by a man in the UK.
- It’s very easy to add a project. You pick a category, you name your project, boom.
- You can upload a picture directly from your computer, rather than going to the trouble of loading a picture to Flickr or Photobucket first
- It’s interesting to see different crafts on the front page, so you get exposure to different crafts
- It’s simple to favorite or comment on a project
- There’s a built-in blog feature, which I have tested. This is rolling-off-a-log easy. I really enjoyed this feature, and when I mentioned it in the thread on Ravelry, Casey did indicate that this would be added to Ravelry at some point. I would love to see something similar integrated into Ravelry, so rah for that.
- It’s fairly juvenile looking. The color scheme is cutesy and it’s just plain boring.
- I hate to say this, but Busymitts is also a pretty lame name. I can see where the ‘cute’ factor could be played up for this website, but that hasn’t happened yet
- The categories are limited to beading, papercraft, crochet, knitting and stitching. Spinning is not included and if this is a general craft website, there’s weaving and other crafts that should be included
Conclusion: The simplicity of this website is what has made this site one that I will continue to use. The site design is lacking, and I would like to see more craft categories. However, I can see potential in the idea, and the ease of use means that adding projects is pretty painless.
letsCRAFTit is a general craft website with many (and more specific) craft categories than busymitts, and in some ways, I find it more frustrating to use, and yet I can see some original thought in the website. It’s incredibly difficult to describe, so I’ll just share some details
- has some interesting features that fall under “Share & Create.”
You can ‘explain a craft’ step by step. You can also ‘write an article’ (which I tested; there seems to be no screening process for articles. It was a simple article on tips for spinning and it is currently the only article on the website. I can definitely see spammers targeting this.) You can also share an image of a completed craft, or create a group.
- there’s a free ad-space that you can use for your blog or website.
The rotation of the ads is determined by the ‘ad credits’ that you earn by linking to their website or writing an article, etc. Essentially, it’s an incentive for adding content to the website or linking to it. Since I wrote an article, I had 3 credits. I will earn more credits since I am linking to them in this blog post. What this means is that my ‘ad’ (a simple link to this blog) will show up more often in the adspace.
- It’s ugly. It doesn’t have even the kitschy charm of Busymitts. It looks underdeveloped, and the color scheme (purple and green) is not working for me, personally.
- layout is un-user-friendly. I find myself constantly scrolling up and down the page to find my way around the site
- this last might be unfair, but the site is very lacking in terms of content. Their userbase is obviously quite small, which isn’t as much of a fault as a fact of life for a new website. Busymitts shares this, but seems to have more active users.
Conclusion: I like some of the ideas that letscraftit has, but it feels like a poor design and other factors are bogging it down from what it could be. I don’t feel like I would use this very much, although there are some original ideas for this website. It’s awkward to use and unattractive to look at.
I don’t see either of these websites as serious ‘competitors’ for Ravelry, simply because I think they are focusing on different aspects of crafting. I do think that more craft websites will generate more ideas, simply because there are different brains that put their original spin on things. I do see myself using Busymitts, I don’t see myself getting much into letsCRAFTit.
I would also love to see a built-in blog/notebook feature on Ravelry sometime soon. I’m interested to know your thoughts on the two websites, and if you would use either website, or none at all!