In the spirit of my last blog rant post, I’m attempting to view technologies with a slightly different eye these days. And that eye is decidedly mass-consumer. Would my next-door neighbor use this product? Will my suburban-mom friends have time and inclination to give it a whirl? If the answer to both is no, then your company needs to re-think its consumer strategy. As we attempt to move the tech industry out if its insular bubble and into the real world, these are questions we absolutely must start asking.
[Caveat: this reasoning shouldn’t be applied to DEMOfall applicants, as the goal is to identify companies on the cutting edge of the industry.]
I looked at two music-focused sites this week, thesixtyone and LaLa. LaLa has been around for a while but I didn’t check it out until I noticed it on Facebook Connect. My music fanatic friend, stepwinder, pulled me into thesixtyone and it only took me 20 minutes to discover that thesixtyone wins hand down from a consumer perspective. The site got me involved immediately from sign-up. And I still haven’t figured out what to do with LaLa.
Upon signing up for LaLa, the service spent most of the morning pulling songs from my hard drive into its site. That’s about as far as I have progressed. It isn’t immediately obvious what I’m supposed to be doing on LaLa. From an analyst perspective, I would dig into the FAQs and About section to gauge the benefits of using LaLa. But from the viewpoint of a consumer, I don’t have time or inclination to do so and would move on to a site whose benefit is more readily apparent. If I can’t figure out in half an hour why I need this technology, I clearly don’t have a real need for it. Or at least you haven’t convinced me I do.
thesixtyone, on the other hand features ingenious “quests” that give the user immediate tasks to accomplish while also familiarizing them with the site’s key features. Through nifty little pop-up bubbles and an interface that never pulls one away from the music, thesixtyone integrated me into its universe in no time flat. This is not something a lot of sites or services can boast, either. Even such mainstream services as Facebook, Twitter, and FriendFeed require a certain level of ramp-up time. Hell, my husband still hasn’t figured out the point of Facebook and he’s a software engineer.
Though thesixtyone isn’t for every consumer in the land – you need a desire to seek out new music – it is an excellent example of how to involve your user base and ramp them up quickly. It’s one of the most ignored aspects in the technology business and yet the simplest: teach your users, in an engaging and immersive manner, how to use your technology. I know – it’s bizarre I even have to type that, isn’t it?
So, LaLa, forgive me if I missed something – in fact I’m sure I did. But you had the unfortunate luck of arriving on my computer at the same time as thesixtyone. Now I must get back to upping my reputation points…