Social Networks Aren’t Products

Social Networks Aren’t Products: On launch day, I found that traffic was very strong, but hardly anybody was signing up. I literally got more e-mails from people saying “what a great site!” than I actually got sign-ups. Same for the following few days. So I decided to try an experiment. I put up a preview screen saying we were taking sign-ups and allowing customers to build their profiles, but I hid the page that allowed site visitors to browse other profiles. In this way, nobody was able to see how many (or, more accurately, how few) other members of the site there were at the time. The next day, sign-ups multiplied by several staggering orders of magnitude.

I learned from this experiment early on a lesson that would repeat itself for the next two years: a social network isn’t a product as such. Rather, the product that a social network provides is access to a large pool of other people. Every social network, whether it be a subscription-based dating site or an advertising-funded general community, must grapple with this ineluctable fact. It’s what makes the rules for social networks different from utility applications like Basecamp and BlinkSale.

If a new member signs up for Highrise today, she can use the application, put in some contacts, appreciate the app’s interface and functionality directly and, if she likes it, leave a happy paying customer. Highrise with one customer is a product with one happy client who might just become an evangelist to others. On the other hand, a social network with one customer, even if it were infinitely better than MySpace in every regard, is a company with one bored and angry customer, which is to say: an utter failure. In the taxonomy of Web applications, social and utility applications are entirely different species. [Excellent grounded story.]
Source: Vitamin Interviews

Product pages: so much suck, so easy to fix

Product pages: so much suck, so easy to fix

We’ll get to the practicum in just a moment but first, let’s talk — very briefly — about some super basic UX tenets:

  • Be nice to your users and customers (and potential customers).
  • Design as if your main goal is to inform and educate.
  • Be honest and forthcoming, while you’re at it.
  • Help your users and customers to do what they want, not what you want them to do.
  • Be consistent with your message and quality of service (and I’m including software design here, folks).
  • Scientific, measurable “usability” doesn’t necessarily make for a good experience.
  • Good design makes people feel good.

[Nice article… the graph was particularly helpful.]
Source: Vitamin Interviews

SpiralFrog Loses $3m in 3 months: Not “Getting It” is Getting Expensive

SpiralFrog Loses $3m in 3 months: Not “Getting It” is Getting Expensive:
That’s a whole lot of money to throw away but it shouldn’t come as any surprise. The SpiralFrog model is awful. Users get free downloads of DRM laden songs that they can listen to in Windows Media Player, but they have to periodically answer survey questions and view ads in order to for the songs to continue playing. The site itself looks like one big ad with music appended to it.

For a totally different take on free music downloads as an ad supported business, see our coverage of Peter Rojas’s startup RCRD LBL. RCRD LBL is hardly a dream come true, either, but it sure leaves SpiralFrog in the dust.

[Terrible. Simply an incredible misunderstanding of what the markets wants…]
Source: Read/WriteWeb

An Open Letter to Comcast and Every cable/Telco on P2P

An Open Letter to Comcast and Every cable/Telco on P2P: Thats not to say there isnt a place for P2P. There is. P2P is probably the least efficient means of distributing content in the last mile. Comcast, Time Warner, etc should charge a premium to those users who want to act as a seed and relay for P2P traffic. After all, that is why P2P is used, right ? For content distributors to avoid significant bandwidth and hosting charges. That makes it commercial traffic far more often than not. So make them pay commercial rates. [Hmmm, a different perspective.]
Source: Blog Maverick