In the second part we looked at process flows and common actions a user would take throughout the application, and identified issues with those. We also provided various techniques that could be used to reduce the cost of enhancing the user’s experience.
This, the final post in this series will look at the business model of the application. I’ll highlight some current risks and provide suggestions for improvement. I’ll then draw conclusions on Entaggle and how I think it will fare as product. Don’t worry if you didn’t read the first two parts, we’ll summarise those quickly at the end.
What’s happened since last time?
Well since part two of these series of posts on Entaggle, Elisabeth (the creator of Entaggle) has been busy at work making major changes around the site. The events list from the home page now displays when new people or new tags have been created, which is one step forward towards making it more usable. You can also find out previous events that occurred out with the twenty events per page limit, via a paged list view on the recent events page. There is still a lot more to be done here as we’d highlighted in part one; I’m sure however Elisabeth has that on her radar.
We also now have profile avatars! This was one of the suggestions I was going to raise in this post; Elisabeth beat me to it though. Avatars are great as they help build relationships with people. What was previously just a piece of text, now has a face associated with it, creating an immediate connection with that person.
The users profile has now also been improved, by grouping related tags and allowing users to view comments a user has associated with that tag like we’d highlighted in part one of this series.
So it’s progressing fast, and I’m excited to see what’s next!
The business model
The whole idea behind Entaggle is that it’s a platform to gain recognition from your peers. If you want to acknowledge someone’s efforts you can tag them with an appropriate tag, and vice versa. The end goal I believe is that others can view your profile to see what people have acknowledged you for.
A standalone model
Fun, quirky, and simple yes. Is that it though? What makes me want to return?
This is a pain point that’s got to be addressed, as just now in it’s current format, Entaggle is just that, a fun, quirky, simple offering which is completely standalone from the rest of the world, and it’s users also for that matter, having no way of updating a them out with Entaggle of events that have occurred which may be of interest to them.
I’d say just now that is probably Entaggle’s biggest risk, in making the user want to return once the novelty has worn off.
Engaging and expanding your user base
So how do you keep people interested? Well I can’t say I know all the answers, but there are certainly a few things you could do to keep users coming to your site and expand your user base at the same time.
Social media integration
Sharing events with others
Instantly you’d want the ability to share with others via your Twitter, Facebook or Linkedin accounts when you’ve tagged someone, or when someone’s tagged you. Most likely you’d want a configuration option for this to set a default behaviour, you might also like to prevent some taggings from being sent to other networks so having for example a checkbox next to a share on Twitter graphic to decide this might be helpful.
Now that’s a pretty simple thing to do, but believe me if you’re looking to expand your user base, linking with other popular social networks this way will quickly spread the word about your site. For Entaggle this will be essential for scaling up the user base, and most importantly keeping people interested via seeing what their friends are talking about.
It may seem pretty obvious, but actually alerting users by email when events occur such as someone tagging them retains their interest in the site. There are several things you could do with email to engage your user base:
- Email a user when they’ve been tagged.
- Email a user when someone has accepted or rejected their tag.
- Allow a user to subscribe to events of another user (could tie in with a watch list).
- Allow a user to subscribe to new tags/user alerts (even better tags/users in a category/field of interest to them).
- Allow a user to tag someone out with the system by using their email address (discussed in part two).
- Provide a method to invite users not in the system to join Entaggle
These would all play a part in keeping users interested and with the last two helping expand the user base.
Remote taggings and free publicity
Providing a means for publicising Entaggle and/or directly tagging people from elsewhere, will quickly expand the sites profile and integrate Entaggle with the rest of the world wide web. This will help rapidly expand the user base through awareness of the product.
Twitter provide an excellent example of how to do this via their resources page in which they provide graphics, widgets, tweet content and follow me buttons.
Entaggle could provide their own resource style page, with graphics for social bars and profiles, widgets for a user’s most recent tags or taggings, buttons to tag someone remotely. The last one I like most, as just like a Facebook like, Twitter tweetme or Linkedin share button Entaggle could have its own tagme button from which a site owner could embed the button at the top or bottom of an article allowing a visitor to select it and tag an account. For example a visitor to Joe Bloggs web site might find his article so helpful that he tags him directly from the tagme link on his article as as “Very Helpful”, adding a comment about why he found the article so helpful.
Providing widgets for popular blogging platforms such as WordPress and Blogger would allow users to display the suggested recent tags or taggings they’ve made on their blog. From simply providing the previously suggested resource to do so, you’ll probably find once the site gains popularity that someone makes the widget for you.
So it’s all fun but really why would anyone take my profile seriously?
Well this is another problem, what is the goal of Entaggle? Is it simply for peer recognition? Fun? Can it be both?
When I see a tag such as “People that have been celebrating their birthday at a conference” next to one like “Inspirational”, well, they are at different ends of the spectrum to say the least. One is meant to be a bit of fun and the other is very meaningful and could be used as a statement of ones worth to others in that field.
My original thought when I viewed Entaggle was that these tags appearing on someone’s profile could be looked at like a mini Linkedin recommendation. Of course this was back when everything had a meaning and fun but pointless tags weren’t present.
So it does feel like tags when appearing on a profile should have some distinct separation between serious and fun taggings, perhaps continuing with the tabbed format for this. Or perhaps its fine as it is, having the ability to remove or reject tags to make your profile purely professional?
I does make me think sometimes as to the point of Entaggle, is it a professionally focused product, social/fun or both? Do we need a clear separation paradigm within the application if it’s to be both?
I’d like to think at some point people may put value in an Entaggle’s users profile. For example a recruiter could view someone’s profile and notice that they are being recognised in the community for their automation skills, and it just so happens that a whole bunch of people would like to either meet, work with, or hire them, and another trend appears to be the fact that they inspire others. Perhaps, some day that recruiter might just say “Well that does sound like the kind of person I’m looking for, how do I go about contacting them?”
I think that day could come, which is why I see its strongest benefit being in showcasing your peer recognised abilities to potential recruiters. I think of this like an expansion to the modern day CV, which most people are now recognising requires more than simply saying what you can do to get you ahead of the game.
Who knows perhaps one day we’ll see an Entaggle application for Linkedin appearing on peoples Linkedin profiles?
I know there have been hints at a premium service for Entaggle users as being the way for the site to make money. I’m naturally very curious as to what premium services there might be? It only leads me to thinking of Entaggle more as a business who’s main objective is to allow you to market yourself as a professional via peer recognition. If not then what would you be paying for?
Certainly premium services if you can entice people to part with their money would become a viable business plan. It avoids going down the traditional site advertisements route which generally doesn’t reap as big a reward as people would think. Take for example Facebook, back when their user base was around the five hundred million user mark. Their add revenues amounted to two hundred and fifty million pounds, which when you consider the frequency that users visited their account, amounted for a mere one pound for every two users, per year! Not very viable for a small start-up to be kept afloat.
Should Entaggle go down the professional peer recognition route, I’d be interest to see which type of user they target; the recruiters, or your average user.
Perhaps recruiters are given premium profile matching options to recruit potential employees, with the ability to filter results by certain aspects such as location. For example they might want to know who the most recognised performance testing experts are in the field of Software Testing that are located within Scotland within a fifty mile radius of the city of Glasgow.
We’ll now conclude by looking back at the main issues raised in the last two posts and finally by giving my thoughts on Entaggle as a product.
Looking back part one
In part one of this series we looked at the main UI, events list and a user’s profile. We mentioned the need to provide context relevant information to a user via dynamic filtering of events or a user watch list. We also mentioned the need for a simple, usable navigation paradigm. We also noted problems with the users public profile, noting the need for tag groupings and allowing notes people had added to tags to be visible here. I’m very happy to see that two out of three of these have been fixed, and probably the two most important at this point in time.
It will be interesting to see how, or if Entaggle provide context relevant information to their users. I’d say for now with such a small user base this is not a major problem, however as the user base increases this will become a more serious issue and one which should be addressed.
Looking back part two
In part two I looked at three main common actions a user might want to take within the application:
- Tagging another user.
- Viewing existing tags or users.
- Creating a tag.
We noted the need for bulk tagging of users and tag creation. We also highlighted the need for a method of tagging users not currently in the system. We highlighted that the current view of users and tags wasn’t very usable and suggested methods to highlight users you may know. We noted the need for categorisation of users and tags to make them more usable.
This really boils down to two major pain points which will become evident as the user base increases.
- The need for context relevant information
- Reducing the time it takes to assign multiple tags to multiple users.
Again looking back at part one we start to see a pattern in the need for context relevant information being provided to the user to enhance the users experience and make to make the product more usable.
Entaggle is an innovative exciting new idea, but it’s clear that it needs some clarity as to its real purpose. Or is it in fact just a bit of fun? Certainly if its aim is to provide a viable professional profile for potential recruiters it will need some clear separation of tag types from fun (People that have been celebrating their birthday at a conference), relationships (Someone I know in person), to serious peer recognitions (Inspirational).
Initial registration teething problems with confirmation emails not being sent out but still actually showing these unconfirmed users as members of the system to others wouldn’t have helped. It would be a good idea to filter out those unconfirmed accounts from real users in the system and resend their confirmation emails.
As the feature develops and provides more context relevant information and makes certain actions that little bit easier to execute, I’m sure the users experiences will be greatly improved.
Was releasing with a minimum feature set a good idea? It’s hard to say. On one hand it allows you to make important changes based on community feedback early, on the other it presents you with the possibility of a rejected system, in that users will naturally look for a reason not to use your product.
With integration with other social media platforms such as Linkedin, Twitter and Facebook, and with integration capabilities for users to embed Entaggle content onto their sites such as widgets, profile link graphics and Tagme! buttons you’ll find the user base will rapidly increase. This as a side effect will also keep people interested as everyone is naturally curious as to what their friends and peers are doing.
Certainly I feel Entaggle has every chance of becoming a success. It does however need some careful consideration as to how it gets to there. For example why rapidly increase your user base via social media integration if you have a strong chance of a rejected system? Would it be better to improve the users experience with the product before floating it to the masses? These are the difficult questions Entaggle will have to look at.
Thanks for reading.