A friend of mine made me aware of the recently launched whirled.com today and provided an emphatically verbalised critique that when summed up, basically boiled down to “How do people get it SO wrong?”.
Take a look at see what you think. The registration is not overly protracted and you can use Facebook Connect to sign up (assuming you have a FB account).
Admission: I only spent 15 minutes pottering around and any digital media project deserves a more intensive review than that to be fully inclusive but to counter-argue that point…..first impressions count. That is especially true in the world of the Viral Loop!
Here’s what my friend and I disliked:
Within seconds we were having customisation options foisted upon us…even before we had taken in the first ‘home’ page.
Secondly, in an equal quick-fire pace, I was being told to buy some gold bars so that I could condust aforementioned customisation options.
Thirdly, as this is the core point, the site/network/world…oops…sorry, ‘whirled’ feels like someone decided to jump on the web 2.0 / social networking bandwagon and simply made a list of ‘all the cool stuff kids like on the web’ and shoved them altogether.
This exercise seems, from what I could tell, to have been executed with pretty good technical aplomb, however there is simply no sense of meaning to the experience. In fact, there was no experience at all. Maybe I’ve suddenly become a middle-age git in my 40th year and, as my friend commented, “maybe you need to be 14 to get it”…but everything I have learned about digital/social media tells me otherwise.
I don’t need to sign into and navigate through a cartoon living room in order to play funky flash games online. I can stream endless music from Spotify. I can chat to my friends and maintain friends lists on Windows Live, Facebook and on numerous other applications. Shoving all this random functionality into one place smacks of an ill-concieved and thinly veiled attempt to capitalise on the Web 2.0 bandwagon and shows, at worst, a complete lack of understanding of why people use social media.
Provide genuine value – even with beta bugs and creaking start-up infrastructure – and people will participate in their droves and go viral on you. Patronise them with a focus-group inspired feature list but no genuine value and any initial success will peter out quickly once the curiosity factor has passed. Don’t build purely to monetise…plan to deliver meaningful experiences that people will want to use then figure out how best to monetise that usage.
Signed: ‘Ol Grumpy Git