Making internet start-up… Advices from Kevin Rose... and me
Have You ever heard about Kevin Rose? No? He is known for his internet start-ups, like: Revision3 - internet television network, micro-blogging platform Pownce, and probably most known - social bookmarking Digg. Some of you might recognize wefollow.com project, especially If You are heavy twitter users. I have just watched his excellent presentation at FOWA (The Future of Web Apps London) - found on the Carsonified’s Blog. He shares some ideas how to “take your site from one to one million users”. Some of You will definitely find this useful.
What Do You think? To be honest - I really, really liked it. Maybe It wasn’t something fresh, something that we were not aware of, but something that allows web start-up creators to take another look at things they currently do or plan to do in the nearest future. And by the way, Kevin Rose is a good speaker and was able to present his ideas clearly, with some well chosen examples. Let me comment on few of his thoughts. 1. Ego (Give a reward for user’s contributing to my system) This is mainly concern for all of You thinking about web 2.0 start-up - web site that will gather community. Idea is pretty simple - give a reward for what people are doing, how they contribute to system. Just look at the Facebook - how people are proud how many friends they have. Or Twitter - how users (or celebrities) compete to have more and more followers. To be honest - I am glad to have spam users following me - it doesn’t matter as long as my counter increases :) Or take a look at StackOverflow - programmers care so much about their reputations and badges in the system. One of Kevin’s new projects (wefollow.com) is just a twitter’s leader board, no more… Whole project just about that. It was mentioned at the very end of the presentation (during “questions” time) that user’s should not be punished for their improper behavior. I couldn’t agree more. Before you punish someone (by banning user or deleting reputation) make sure that he/she fully understands how web site works… Probably punished user means lost user. 2. Simplicity and Analysis Some of top community portals are simple and they focus on their certain functionality. Digg is about Digging links, Twitter about Twitting, Google about Googling :) Everyone knows that. So, stop building new Facebook, it will take ages. Focus on your core features. And remember - if you think building even simple features like twitter or digg have, does not take days or weeks if you really want user friendly experience.
Stop thinking you understand your users. Don’t assume that users do what you think they do.
Stop building new features that will take ages to finish, just because you think user’s may like it. Don’t spend time on features none cares about. Do investigation first. Allow user’s to provide feedback at your website, do it yourself or make use of existing projects for collecting user’s opinion, like: UserVoice or Get Satisfaction. Analyze your pages - use Google Analytics - it is for free and can bring a huge value to your knowledge about your customers, visitors. Analyze it - check how they show up on your website, what are they doing, when, from where they live (exit pages). 3. Marketing Run your own blog, run your project’s blog. Talk to other bloggers about Your project - make them write about your project. Don’t use force! :) Use Google Alerts - it will help you to respond to articles, entries where they mention your start-up. Show Your project at conferences, make a demo to visualize your ideas. Just think about the fact that Digg is where it is without a penny spend on keyword campaigns in internet. Ugh… I am not really good at that. That makes me nervous every time i think about it. I like to think about myself as one to get job done. I am developer - marketing is fu! 4. Advisors No matter what You think and how clever you are, there are people smarter than you, more experienced than you - especially if it concerns specialized areas (marketing, recruitment, business model, fund raising). 5. At the end Most (90%) of web projects collapse. Extinct. It’s not the case with you. But one smart guy once said that:
The only truly failed project is the one where you didn’t learn anything along the way.
Uh… so true…