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Table Of Contents  The Online Freelancing Guide
 >  An Analysis and Review of Popular Online Freelancing Marketplace Sites
      >  Guru - Freelance Marketplace Site Analysis and Review

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Guru - Payment Methods and Mechanisms
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Guru - Bidding, Client Interaction and Project Award Policies and Mechanisms
(Page 2 of 4)

Project Search Mechanisms

Guru used to have a fairly wretched search engine for finding new projects. It was slow and cumbersome, and there were few options for refining how searches were done. There was also no way to see a single list of new projects across multiple categories, which was a major nuisance for multidisciplinary workers.

Recognizing how important the project search function is for freelancers, Guru overhauled it in mid-2009. The new system is quite powerful and flexible. It actually resembles the one used by Elance in a lot of ways, though it is better in some respects and worse in others.

Primary access to the project search mechanism is via the “Search for Projects” entry under the “Get Work” menu header on the freelancer side of the site. This brings up a default listing of the most recent projects posted on the site, in reverse chronological order. Each page shows 20 results, with the following information visible on the summary page:

  • Project title.

  • Skill requirements.

  • Bidding limitations (location or bidding type, such as Guru Vendor profile required.)

  • Budget range.

  • Employer’s feedback rating.

  • Employer’s total dollars spent on Guru.

  • Time elapsed since project was posted.

  • Days until listing expires.

  • An indication of whether or not you can apply for the project. If you have the proper credentials, a “Submit a Proposal” link will appear; if not, a line saying “Not eligible to apply”.

This is pretty good summary information, and even more is available by moving the mouse pointer over the listing. Hovering over the project title shows the first couple of lines of the project description, as well as the number of proposals received, along with a repetition of the skill requirements and an indication of the “Industry” associated with the project. Hovering over the “Employer Stats” line in the listing shows the percentage of projects that the client has paid, as well as the average paid per project.

Frankly, both of the “mouse hover” pop-ups could be better; they both repeat information already on the page, and contain items that should be in the search results, such as the number of bids received on a project. The Employer Stats pop-up is particularly pointless: two of the five pieces of information it contains are already on the summary page, and the other three would take up scarcely more space than the “Employer Stats” line used to get the pop-up in the first place. Having them shown without the mouse hover would be a lot more useful.

The left hand column of the search page contains a listing of skill categories and shows the number of results in each. Any category can be clicked to filter the search results to only the ones matching that category. Once a category is chosen, results can be narrowed down further by clicking on a subcategory.

Near the top right portion of the search results page are further options for refining the search results. You can show only projects in a particular budget range, or filter them by location. There are also handy options to allow you to hide projects that are not likely to be relevant to your particular situation, such as those requiring being onsite, or ones you can’t bid on based on your active profiles.

You can search for keywords within projects. Sorting options are limited to ascending or descending date or budget. Guru also allows you to add projects to your watch list so you can track them, and even provides a way to do this for multiple projects at once.

The search engine is not as responsive as I would like, taking up to five seconds to refresh with a new set of results. You cannot change the number of results per page, which is a nuisance for those trying to scan a lot of projects. The search feature also uses Javascript, which can be a problem on some platforms.

Project Detail Page

The detail page for a project is split into two columns which show all of the pertinent details that the client specified for the project. On the left is the project description, questions for freelancers to answer, required skills and key requirements. On the right, statistics about the project and the employer. There’s also a link to the public message board (called the Question Board on Guru) for those who are allowed to use it.

One notable omission on the detail page is the actual name of the employer. Guru is the only site that hides this entirely, not even showing a username.

I very much object to this policy. I understand that Guru is trying to protect the security of its clients, but I think contractors have a right to know who they are potentially going to do business with before bidding. There have been clients I have avoided bidding for on other sites based on my knowledge of their past behavior, and Guru makes this sort of screening difficult to do. Sure, you can see the client’s past statistics, but I still like to know the identities of my business partners.

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