Fitlads: Site Review
Mothership Blog takes a look at Fitlads in the first of our series of gay dating site reviews:
Run by David and Joe Ltd
Basic store selling promotional merchandise
Fitlads claims to be the UK’s second largest gay website after Gaydar, although Ladslads has got to be nipping at its heels. Fitlads‘ style is young, scally and horny - so if you like the white chav and sportsgear look then you’ll probably like Fitlads.
Fitlads does have a very fresh, street approach with statements like “I’m a nob” (forgotten both password and user name) and “Bollocks Mebbe you typed it in wrong”, and the overall branding is very ‘council estate’ with brickwork and graffiti-like text.
Recently Fitlads appears to be pushing sex more - with a porn video site (a skin of the Homoactive porn site), and even making their own porn DVD. Their quarterly magazine also has a lot of sexual content and tips - like the correct way to have sexual intercourse with a watermelon! This sexual emphasis works well with their brand.
Fitlads Site Features
One of Fitlads strongest features is its forums. Simply laid out, easy to navigate and lively. The key strength of their forums has been the way they are almost a hybrid of forums and chat.
Fitlads also has live chat rooms which are outsourced to an external provider - and if you upgrade you get cam chat too, although presumably a lot of guys will simply use msn for free.
Profile management is basic and not user friendly, and you are limited in the information you can record. Searching on Fitlads is also very basic, and you can’t search by fetish or interests, for instance. Who’s Online is terrible - there may thousands of guys shown online, but you try finding them! You can only scroll page at a time, and no one is going to bother going past page 2 or 3.
The logged-in home page is cluttered and has a very amateurish feel. However, Fitlads version 2 has been promised for ages now and Fitlads say that these drawbacks will be overcome when v2 goes live later this year.
A couple of nice features are the Events page (although it could be more heavily used) and the Links page where Fitlads list links to other gay web sites - although no link to Mothership Gay Dating though
Free or Paid
Fitlads free membership is fairly generous and you can use the site well without paying at all. If you do upgrade you get goodies like bookmarking, full size photos, video and cam chat. Their July £35 annual membership special offer is still running - either they are struggling or maybe competing with Mothership, who remain cheaper
Ups and Downs
Fitlads launched at the right time with the right brand, and enjoyed very impressive growth for the first 4 years or so. However lately their star has waned a little.
Their biggest problem is Ladslads - a technically more advanced site launched in 2006 directly on Fitlads’ turf - aimed at young, fit UK lads. Not only that but Ladslads have grown very aggressively and Fitlads have suffered directly as a result.
Last year they famously suffered a DOS attack (denial of service) which crippled them for 2 weeks and cost a fortune to sort out. Basically their server was overwhelmed by thousands of co-ordinated malicious automated service requests.
One of Fitlads’ owners Joseph Hill made a mistake when he criticised Jade Goody on YouTube before she died and he got into very hot water. It appears that Fitlads didn’t handle the customer service complaints well in the aftermath. However, that said, the telephone support they offer is a nice touch, providing they’re not arguing with their members.
The site seems to be extremely caucasion in ethnic mix. Do black guys use Fitlads? Why not?
It is very hard to get any internet traffic figures, however Alexa.com has shown Fitlads in steady decline for a year. Fitlads claim on their home page that Hitwise rank them as the number 2 gay site in the UK - however Hitwise also do not provide reliable traffic statistics either. The only people who know their real traffic figures are the web site owners themselves.
Fitlads - the Future
Fitlads version 2 is crucial for their success. Will it provide the functionality and user experience that is superior to Ladslads? It needs to.
Fitlads also plans to launch an iphone application, but who knows if there will be enough users to make it pay.
Fitlads’ recent emphasis on porn sexes things up, and puts clear blue water between themselves and Ladslads.
A plus is their unique styling and brand which is distinctive and memorable, and the sneak preview screenshots for V2 look good.
Fitlads Gay Dating Site Summary
Good: Forums, value for money, strong theming, phone support, quarterly magazine, Fitlads mobile site, loyal users
Bad: Clumsy outdated site, basic search facility, dull profiles, limited market, lack of ethnic diversity and stroppy customer service
by David Abrehart
(c) Copyright 2009. All rights reserved.
Look out for future reviews of other gay dating sites
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