Oct 30 2009
A friend of mine met a guy who works at the guitar store. Cute guy, very nice, very polite. She liked the fact that he was a musician, that he seemed to have a close relationship with his siblings, and appeared to be a hard working dude. Just one problem. “He’s a Scorpio. They’re the worst for me. It’s never gonna work.” So that was that.
This little story illuminates the universal awkwardness of diving into new relationships, but even more so, the strange way we think about relationships. (By the way, all Piscean woman out there, keep walking. Never again!!) That is the crux behind Moonit, a very nifty site that “helps Generation Y users make the most of their personal and professional relationships.” Provide Moonit with the basics about a nascent romantic, professional, or friend-relationship, and they’ll give you their prognosis, via a “compatibility assessments based on astrological underpinnings.”
Moonit aims to be a part match-maker, part shrink. Part Donna-from-HR-who-you-gossip-to-during-your-coffee break, Part Big Sister unwilling to spare you the hard truth: you’re dating a jerk and he’ll never change. Part motherly therapist, part Zoltar Speaks (remember Zoltar? That crazy machine from the movie “Big” with Tom Hanks? Zoltar? Anybody?
On its home page, it explains: “moonit uncovers why you hang with friends, hate your boss and have the hots for that special someone.” But more importantly, Moonit is about precision. Generation Y folks have countless and ever-growing social networks, and that’s good. Jobs, happy hours, urban living, kickball – all these things make it pretty easy to meet people. But what about the right people? Let Moonit do the work. It asks you to 1. Think of a relationship you’re curious about; 2. Give us some info, and 3. We’ll let the truth fly. Who could resist? Not me!
The Women of My Life, Part 1: Linda
I clicked on the “Moon Someone” button (a nifty branding approach, but admittedly, when I read it, I giggled a bit.) I’m prompted to “select a relationship” that’s on my mind: Friendship, Romantic, and Professional. Well, I have enough friends, and my professional life is beyond astrological assistance, so I selected “Romantic.” I entered information about myself and was then prompted to enter information about the person we shall call, eh, let’s say “Linda.”
It asked for Linda’s full name and birthday. I stopped in my tracks. That’s some private stuff. That said, in today’s modern age, this information is easily accessible via Facebook if you’re this person’s friend. And it wouldn’t work unless I was honest, right? I pictured some sick algorithm on the back end, computing syllables, cross-checking it with astrological movements, tide charts of the Chesapeake Bay, horse racing results, Soduku patterns, Kayne’s moods, and analyzing etymology of the name “Linda” (fyi: it’s an “ancient Germanic name meaning ‘serpent.’ That explains a lot, actually.) Except I didn’t know Linda’s vital information, so I clicked a “Don’t Have This?” link, which prompted me to enter her e-mail address, saying they’d send them a request to fill out the missing details.” Hmm. Will Linda think I’m a stalker? (Or, more accurately, “Is that restraining order still in effect?”) Moonit has a solution: “you can run them first for friendship or business if you don’t want them to think you have a crush on them! You can always run them for romantic purposes after they reply with their birthdate.”
The Other Woman: Barbara
So, not knowing much about the elusive Linda – she is an enigmatic temptress – I entered the info of someone whose information I know. My ex, “Barbara.” And the results? The result: “85% compatibility – Giving Fabio a Run for His Money”! I signed up for an account and read the whole analysis. It was extremely witty and juicy; I wanted to keep reading. It was also eerily accurate (in retrospect), as Barbara and I were, indeed, compatible.
<Cue introspection.> You know, Barbara and I did have a lot in common. Growing up, we were always shuttled from place to place, never establishing roots. She was an Army brat; I came from a circus family. She never knew her father; mine trained the dancing monkeys. We liked camping, romantic dinners and long walks in the park. Oh… Babs.
Having set up my own profile, Moonit lets you store these relationships and enables you to also test your “friendship” and “business” compatibility.” You can also choose an avatar, add more relationships, and answer a community question (e.g. “Which Taylor is hotter: Lautner or Swift?” For whatever reason, I couldn’t choose my preference. Isn’t he soooo dreamy?)
The User Navigation Experience
The navigator bar is thankfully simple, consisting of four pages:
- Dashboard – Essentially the home page once logged in, highlighting “Today’s Question,” and “My Relationships.”
- Relationships – Allows me to take a deeper dive into said relationships (though at first blush, it seems slightly redundant since “Relationships” are featured on the Dashboard.) The page also lets me sort by the following relationship types: All, Romantic, Business, and Friendship. The types are illustrated by icons; while it’s fairly intuitive, a text roll-over for each icon would be helpful.
- The Stars – This is cool – its ruminations about celebrity couples. John and Jen (run Jen, he’s a player!) Mariah and Nick (get a room!) This is pure crack for the tabloid generation and my only qualm is that some brief verbage on the landing page describing what I’m look at would be illuminating.
- The Couch – My favorite. First, it does provide some useful information telling me what I’m seeing (“Do you want to sit on the couch? Ask moonit a question.) This is a page where people can vent about love and receive feedback from other users.
Which reminds me: the about page is very informative and goes a long way to differentiate itself from other sites. That said, it’s a bit wordy. I could go for a bit more punchy copy (ditto the Privacy page), as it’d aesthetically complement the site’s clean, effortless design.
“Pay no attention the man behind that curtain”
The Web is clearly rife with relationship-oriented sites, whether dating and match-making sites, to platforms where people can vent about the opposite sex. Many also seek to access the treasure trove of personal information available via Facebook, Twitter, etc., to make this experience as personalized as possible. Moonit does all these things, plus brings a cool differentiating aspect to the table: mystique.
While the casual visitor learns about the “astrological’ underpinnings of the relationship tool, we don’t know the guts of it. And in a way, that’s great. We read the horoscopes every day, or visit palm readers, but we don’t exactly know what’s going on. It’s only after further digging do we also learn of the Man Behind the Curtain, Joel Block. Dr. Block is Moonit’s resident psychologist, whose “guidance informs Moonit’s progressive profiling process and provides advice for The Couch relationship questions that users submit.” This pedigree lends some legitimacy to the whole proceedings, but it doesn’t explicitly shed light on the machinations of the relationship tool, which, again, can be alluring. I mean, we don’t know – or want to know – how sausage is made, but man, it’s totally yummy.
Moonit for Everybody!
Moonit seems like a place where you can happily whittle away your days. Who doesn’t like talking about relationships? Oh wait, men.
Moonit’s landing page picture features a gal, Anna, who wonders about her boyfriend and her boss. Coupled with the confessional nature of “The Couch” (let’s face it, its clearly healthier for men to repress our emotions as long as possible; ideally our entire lives) and the gossip-y vibe of “The Stars,” my gender-meter leads me to believe this primarily geared toward women, at least for now.
Yet if that’s the case, why did I urgently wonder if LeAnn Rimes is looking for love in all the wrong places? Why am I emotionally invested in “In a Relationship but Friendless,” who is in love, but suddenly without his old pals? Why does the “High Maintenance Dude Situation” hit just a little too close to home?
Hmm. Does Dr. Block make housecalls?