Back on February 13, AIGA Jacksonville hosted its annual I Love Design, with Joe Duffy speaking. He mentioned many, many cool things, but one in particular was the Visual Thesaurus. Our friend John wrote, wondering what we thought of it. I thought I’d post my thoughts here, where everyone could contribute to the conversation.

I tried two words — ‘experience’ and ‘considerable’ — which are overly-used in a letter I’m working with. Maybe try looking them up yourself, and see what you think.

I like the interface. It’s colorful, fun and intuitive. One qucikly understands what each of the colored dots and line styles means. Or maybe, it’s deceptive (see below).

I don’t like the lack of words. More often than not, clicking the little dots doesn’t reveal more words as I explore. My two words yielded only a few alternatives, none of which seemed much of an improvement over the original word, or meant precisely the same thing. Maybe it’s because I’m a new user, and haven’t picked up on all the best practices — but then, isn’t the interface supposed to make it intuitive enough I shouldn’t have to spend hours learning it?

I don’t like the limited free trial. So many web sites have found a way to make money without charging a subscription fee. Even AOL is giving the milk away for free. I think VT would do better to find a model that offers a basic online version for free with advertising, and an upgraded version for a fee with no adverstising, just like Pandora does (PS — I love Pandora). I can’t think of a model that would allow the desktop version for free, but after looking at the comparison between the online and desktop versions, the only advantage I see is that it doesn’t require internet access (if you can call that an advantage).

What do you think?

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