Setting the hook requires good bait

Many of the new “Web 2.0 Social Networking” sites I visit fail to keep my interest beyond a few minutes – they just don’t get me involved in the site early enough – they don’t show me what I can do with the service.

This is just as true for desktop applications.  Examples – both Google and Microsoft released new versions of their mapping software today (Google Earth 4 [beta, of course] and Microsoft Virtual Earth 3D [also beta].

Neither of these apps has very good bait – there is no immediate way to see “what does this application offer me?”.

If I were the program manager for Google Earth I would offer a new user the option to “Enter the names of as many as X places you have visited, lived, or are interested in”.  THEN I would do the amazing Google Fly-Around’s – to places that mean something to the viewer.  Bam!  Bait taken,  hook set.  Microsoft can offer the same type of “hook them now” experience – one way is wit their “driver’s seat” view.  Take me on a ride of the 10 best scenic drives in the country, or to the Seven Wonders of the World.  Engage me.  Early.