Those of us working in ‘tech’ love to obsess over hot innovations and cool features in the latest apps, but at the end of the day most consumer web products “win” with their overall voice and vision.*
If you look at some of the best communities - Tumblr, Foursquare, Twitter and now Bnter, Forrst and Quora - there is an instant feeling that comes with the user experience that cannot be underrated. Those applications have personality… and “personality goes a long way.”
Letting your voice come through should be easy, right?
Nope. When we built HomeField, we were “scratching our own itch” as athletes, but we knew our former coaches (the buyers) and we felt that ultimate utility and efficiency informed their purchasing decisions. Consequently, HomeField was elegant, easy to use, and efficient, but it lacked charisma. Coaches were too busy to care about witty copy and fun UX.
We were right to restrain ourselves, but it killed us to do so! I remember countless product sessions with Dan and Joe when we said “it’d be hilarious to put a link to this funny video here” or “give them a game to play while uploading.” We did it once and the customers didn’t appreciate it… at all. :(
But now’s our chance… Shelby.tv is us. It’s the product we want now. It’s the way we want to communicate. It’s a chance for us to be ourselves, at present… not having to maintain our strength and scoring stats from college just to make a sale. [And for the record, Joe was better than all of us… ok? There I said it.]
Thinking back on it, I can’t even tell you the score of every game I played - I mean, I was a starter who took it as seriously as anyone - but I remember every prank we pulled and every laugh behind our coach’s back better than I remember the stats.
So, back to the product…
In considering the potential of Shelby, we’ve been questioned about our passion. We’ve been questioned about who we are and if Shelby speaks to our personality. We’ve been questioned as to whether or not we’re “the right guys” to build Shelby. So to quote the infamous Bill O'Reilly…
This is our voice. This is our product. And this is our company. We know how to build products and we know how to have fun (Four Loko flipcup + karaoke… works every time).
This time around, we get to do both.
So be yourself. Hear feedback, but don’t take it as gospel. Build your product and company the way you want to.
P.S. - I’m embedding a couple commercials we made for HomeField. We made 'em for the Superbowl but they were rejected. Weird.
*CTO’s - please don’t get me wrong. I know that the underlying technology is paramount to the success of all products, but given comparable stacks, the one with personality will win every time.
P.P.S. - If you clicked through on every link of this post, you can star in our next rejected commercial. Email me.