Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Don't Visit This Site!

I once interviewed at TripAdvisor.com. I wasn't especially impressed by the interview, but I chalked that up to my own inexperience. I didn't get the job because the CEO misunderstood a question.

I asked, "TripAdvisor.com looks pretty complete to me. What features do you plan to add in the next 1-5 years?"

He heard, "TripAdvisor.com looks pretty complete to me. Why bother doing anything else?"

Recently, a friend of my interviewed there and was rebuffed as well. Though he managed to not offend the CEO, he was tripped up by several weak interview traps (e.g. asking him to write code to determine if a number is a triangular number, but not telling him what a triangular number is). He didn't get the job either.

Upon hearing about adventures in interviewing at this company, I decided to take a look at their website and see how it has changed.

I can't say I'd ever use the site. Even with AdBlock enabled, the site is still cluttered with advertisements. I tried searching for Tahiti; the site was just so ADD I couldn't parse any of it. It's so Web 1.0* it hurts my eyes.

What bugs me the most is that they actually seem to be doing very well! Look at these Alexa rankings:

It's beating the sites where you can actually book travel (ok I get it, travel research and travel booking are not the same category of webpage)! And in case you're wondering, that's good for a 414 ranking! I mean, this is just ridiculous for a terrible website! I'm just blown away by how people can actually use that site.

* One of the questions they asked me in the interview was How would I go about adding a table to a page. I described the table syntax, and the dev manager was all "No no I meant what would you do?" I tentatively asked "Well, if it was just HTML changes, I'd do the changes on a dev page, then copy that page to production." He turned to the computer in the office and asked me to demonstrate on the Tripsadvisor.com homepage. Thinking it was a trap of some sort, I was careful to explain every step as I saved a copy of the live page, made the change, saved, then opened in IE. He nodded then explained that's how they made many changes. This was their dev process? Yuck!
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