Elance - Bidding, Client Interaction and Project Award Policies and Mechanisms
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Project Search Mechanisms
Overall, Elance has a good project search engine. It is pretty easy to look for projects in a variety of different ways, the site is usually quick and responsive, and the design mostly clean and usable.
A default search shows all open projects listed in reverse order by date/time listed, so the newest projects show up at the top of the list. Each page of search results contains 25 project summaries, with this information visible for each:
Additional information is available by interacting with a listing. Clicking the “Details+” box shows the first part of the project description. You can also hover your mouse over the names of clients to see how much total money they have spent, their award rate, month and year they joined Elance, and locations. Hovering over the number of bids will show the highest, lowest and average bid amounts, which can be useful for strategic bidding.
It is possible to do a keyword search for projects. They can also be filtered in a number of ways, including on the basis of:
Project search results can also be sorted by name, category, budget, date/time posted, time remaining, or number of bids.
The site is fairly quick to respond to changes in parameters. The listings are updated regularly, and new listings show up usually within a few minutes of their posting time. Elance supports RSS and even the creation of custom RSS feeds.
There’s also a nice Watch List feature, which allows you to flag projects you are interested in, and then track them from your profile.
Selecting a project from the search results brings up the detail page for the project. This page starts with the project title and its work category, followed by a header that contains key details about the project, such as when it was posted, whether it is fixed price or hourly, and the estimated budget. Following the header is the detailed project description.
A right hand column allows bidders to fill out and submit proposal information, which is convenient (see below). Much of the rest of the page, though, is taken up with summary boxes of other bidders. These just take up space that could be better used to provide details that freelancers actually need to decide whether or not they want to bid.
The Elance project details page is frequently redesigned, but seems to actually get worse each time the developers tinker with it. In fact, this page is the subject of one of my chief complaints about the company’s user interface priorities.
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Last Site Update: December 13, 2011
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