“QUESTION: Would you be interested in expressing your own ideals for what you would hope Ideapod may become? I’m curious to see it from your perspective.”
The following is my response to this question. All of what I am presenting is factual and accurate, based on my extensive life experience. It is probably giving more than what was asked for, but it is my nature to do things my way.
First, we should describe what Ideapod currently is before we can examine what Ideapod may become. Here is a list, I like lists.
(1) It is a website that is currently built on better tools now than when it first made an appearance. Money and time were invested, lessons learned, and more money was spent. This is often the result of an idea in the hands of inexperienced people. It is part of the price of your education in this business.
(2) The current incarnation has attracted from many parts of the world traffic of some demographic that is probably limited by the presentation, content, and usefulness of the existing Ideapod website.
(3) Ideapod has a business plan. If an accurate comparison is made between what is stated in the business plan and the current Ideapod website, it will reveal the ability of the developer’s to deliver these product requirements. It is ok to make changes, but the elements (business plan) should track the changes.
(4) There may or may not be a functional specification for the code behind the current Ideapod website. Managing changes is more difficult if you do not have such documentation. If it is a house of cards today and it is just allowed to evolve it will be a more elegant house of cards.
(5) I do not know if Ideapod has sufficient income via the website to pay for the web servers and code use it is likely experiencing. Sometimes a change is not made for fear of destabilizing the current status. The difference is the only way to make progress.
(6) Ideapod consists of two neighborhoods. One is the discussion area, and the other is not.
(7) In the discussion area, we have a list, some ability to vary and filter the list. You can post new topics or reply to most but not all topics.
(8) What the objective of this area is has appeared to evolve as I believe many things you can do here, if part of an initial design specification, would have been done differently. I have worked around any limits I observed, and when I see a notification, I check what was said and respond if appropriate.
(9) The other part of the website is strange. It is a combination of topic items, promotional items, background items, advertisements, other items I am uncertain how to categorize. It appears to make poor use of the screen. It violates a basic rule of websites, “do not make me think.”
(10) Both areas demonstrate there is an underlying functional code base that can be repurposed to support any topic or product.
Now, we move into the future. How to view that? When I was young, we had our milk delivered to the house every day. Two times a week the Dugan bread truck would appear with bread, pies, donuts and a comic for me. This is not how the world works anymore.
What is apparent that there are web sites that sell things, either they are large stores like Amazon or local flea markets like Facebook, where sellers pop up among the passer-by. Information is currently still free, and you can find web sites promoting the flavor of politics and religion you favor. These are usually free but often ask for donations.
One common feature of the web when it comes to commerce is if you have breath and money they need you. There is no discrimination.
A thought just floated by, if you can not sell it on eBay, there is no market for your product.
Here is another idea, how about having a franchise for a commune, you know, that “group of people living together and sharing possessions and responsibilities.” You could sell packages that provided the necessary information on how to do it, connections to places that would sell to them or be a source of such material for them.
I apologize for getting off topic.
We must also consider the desires of the Ideapod founders. They may be in these categories, “advocate, advocator, apostle, backer, booster, champion, espouser, exponent, expounder, friend, gospeler (or gospeller), herald, hierophant, high priest, paladin, promoter, protagonist, supporter, true believer, tub-thumper, white knight.” Promoting their idea may be more important to them than having a viable business.
What will Ideapod be in the future? Either it will cease to exist or will become a self-sustaining retailer in a specialized market. To be successful, what must it do, for this future success? A simple list follows. I like lists.
(1) It will find a product it can sell, resell, or be paid to promote.
(2) It will expand its demographics to ensure a viable consumer base.
(3) It will make the Ideapod website a desirable place to be regardless of the visitors intent to buy any products. It will be pleasant to the eyes, not require visitors to think and desired content will be instantly accessible, and only essential content will be prominent.
(4) The developers will learn the skills of marketing communications or contract for them. This is a crucial step as it is necessary to connect the demographic heart of the visitor with the product they desire.
(5) What is the path for the evolution of Ideapod? It will be small steps; insight gained from my feedback will be understood; the necessary changes will be made. It will be a collection of many small steps. I see a new Ideapod to be fully complete within 3-4 years.
(6) Where will ideas for products and appearance changes originate? They will be learned by the Ideapod team using all sources available. Some may be free; some may be expensed. It is the synergy of ideas that will make the new Ideapod most successful.
(7) What will the benefits be for using ideapod? This is an important question. If you go to Facebook or Twitter, you come away with something. If you go to Amazon or Walmart, you come away with something. The ability of the Ideapod developers to visualize what people will take with them based on their ideapod experience is one of the most important discovers they will make.
(8) The world is changing; Facebook and Twitter are getting old. Ideapod, the real Ideapod, has not yet made an appearance. I have participated in, observed, and conducted focus groups for developing software products. It is easy to mentally do this exercise for the current Ideapod or future versions. If you have a member of your target demographics, see the first page of Ideapod appear on their PC screen, and you observe what they do you will learn a great deal. I am sure the Ideapod developers have done this. This process will be used to refine the development of the new Ideapod. Can you imagine the quality of a High School graduate if they never had a test, ever, starting at first grade?
(9) Why do I feel confident that Ideapod will be so successful? I can see what they have now and know what I could do with a website at this starting point and 3-4 years. I have confidence in the Ideapod developers to learn what is necessary, and they are knowledgeable people.