Devblog


Archive for May, 2007

“Phasers on stun” – Community Launch Strategy

I’d like to say a few words about our launch strategy. By just looking around at other new online communities it’s obvious that there are many ways to go. Launch everything at once. Private beta phase. Public beta. Launch a little, then a little more etc.

These are our thoughts

  • We’re planning a private beta
  • Then a public beta period (phase 1) which is the official launch
  • Phase 2 launch, end of beta
  • Phase 3, slower continuous development

It’s hard to wait with functionality to later phases when we know it will add a lot of value but there are a few good reasons.

First of all we don’t want to put all the eggs into one basket. Also I don’t think the users want an overwhelming amount of features to hit them at once. Better to let them discover the features one by one and give feedback on what works and what doesn’t. We can then take this feedback and compare to our own release plans. Hopefully they’re in sync, otherwise we will have the opportunity to adjust our plans for the next phase.
This strategy helps the development process. If we see a demand for a particular feature we can prioritize amongst what’s in the pipe line to accommodate our users. We want to respond to their needs and to show that we listen and care.

Nothing new under the sun here. I think this is how most other community drivers think. I just wanted to bring it out in the open so we can discuss it if you feel like it :)

Mashup is the new black

The planning group has had its third and probably its final meeting!

Last year I compiled a wish list of features for the online community and this list has been a big part of our planning up to this point.
During the meeting we focused on going through all of these features. We discussed them one by one and decided if each feature should stay or be cut and if it should be in the beta launch or in phase two.
During these discussions we also got to improve some of the features and we even came up with some very good new ones!
It was very valuable to get every body’s input. We complemented each other and came up with some great ideas!

One of the big web trends today is localization. This is something we will put a lot of work into. Every photo and travel story etc will be Geo tagged i.e. it will have a tag stating its geographical location. This makes all the content searchable in some interesting ways and the content can also be visualized in some amazing ways.
Check out this example at Nokia.

Nokia Nseries World 24h

We will use Google Maps for these kinds of map and localization features. Using another web service for your own purposes on your own website is usually referred to as a “mashup”. It’s also a big trend on the web. We even went so far as to discuss if the entire online community should be a mashup website using for example flickr, youtube etc. While certainly it’s possible today we decided against it.

We already have some experience with using Google Maps at VisitSweden. We just released our new updated map of Sweden section on visitsweden.com and it uses Google Maps. Check it out and tell us what you think :)

I now have to put down these new ideas into a requirement specification document which is needed for the development. We’re almost there!

Consumer generated content (CGC) influences $10 billion a year in online travel bookings

A study released by Compete Inc in march revealed these key findings:

  • Consumer generated content (CGC) already influences $10 billion a year in online travel bookings.
  • Consumers are increasingly embracing their peers‚Äô voices online: 20% rely on CGC when planning travel, and they consider this content more credible than reviews from professionals or information from the brands themselves.
  • In many situations, consumers will welcome brands to participate in the conversation
  • CGC can have a direct and positive impact on eCommerce performance
  • Brand advocates are hard to come by, but have a significant ability to shape the effectiveness of CGC campaigns

Compete’s research is based on its panel of two million consumers and behaviorally targeted surveys to precise consumer segments.

Read more here.

This study is shows that we’re on the right track. :)