April 6th, 2008
On Intuu, profile pages are centered around a specific topic. The content on that page is all about the user’s interest which makes for some difficulty when it comes to choosing what to name the sections on the interest page. Most other social networks have the benefit of having profile content that is focused on more generic info about the user like an “About Me” section. With the wonderfully enormous number of topics that people are passionate about there’s almost no way to pick a section title that will work for all of them.
The solution has been to push the job of picking section headings to the user. Instead of being forced to use headings like “About” on profile sections users can now choose something like “How I got into underwater basket weaving”. As it stands at the time of writing this an interest section can contain up to three custom heading/text sections and one custom list. The list can be anything from a top ten list, to random facts, to a list of goals. This may evolve a bit further before launch but the final system is likely to be very similar to this.
February 22nd, 2008
Today I’m finishing up a few tasks related to integrating and tweaking the profile page design so I figured now would be a good time to show off the design and talk a bit about the profile structure. Intuu’s focus is on people’s interests and our profile pages reflect that.
Click to Enlarge
A profile page has two main sections. The left side is about the users themselves so it holds their personal information, a sampling of their friends and actions you can take with that user such as adding them to your friends or messaging them. The right side of the page is dedicated to the topic of interest. A user can have multiple interests in their account but every account has a ‘main’ interest which is the one that is displayed when a user first browses to that profile page. The main interest is also displayed alongside your username wherever it’s displayed, such as in a comment that you leave on someones profile. The design you see here will probably be tweaked a bit before launch but it’s likely to be pretty close to this.
January 17th, 2008
Now to talk a bit about the direction choices for Intuu. The purpose of Intuu is to act as a tool to connect people, with interests acting as the catalyst. Users browse through and search for each other’s profiles with interests acting as the initial point of reference. Finding people with matching interests is central to this concept but it’s not the only thing that this network is purposed for. Centering the network around interests is merely the framework through which a user browses the network and initiates interactions, it’s not meant to limit interactions to users with identical interests.
The Intuu profile is structured around core interests that the user chooses and each user can have up to three interest sections. It’s limited to three to encourage users to list only the most important interests that they have. One of the reasons that networks like Myspace and Facebook are ineffective at connecting people based on interests is that the “Interests” section usually manifests as a simple text box that users tend to fill with things like “Watching Lost” or “Partying”. The signal-to-noise ratio of that format makes it less than idea for using interests as a reference point for interaction.
Our interest sections include places to describe what your interest is, why you’re into it, random facts relating to it and a place to keep your friends updated on the latest news regarding your interest. Picking what actually goes in to these interest sections was a bit tricky because the format had to be able to work with any kind of topic. There were lots of interesting ideas for content types for these sections but most were rejected for not being versatile enough to work with any type of interest.
Another tricky thing about determining profile structure is that once you launch and people start putting their content into these sections you are completely stuck with whatever choices you made. You can add sections later but you can never take any away. One thing that is going to be very important is in gaining user feedback on what they feel needs to happen to the profile and interest sections. We’re hoping to see some interesting ideas from the community on how to improve the site after launch.
January 16th, 2008
As it stands currently the project is about %70 of the way towards being ready to launch. I’ve been working furiously on the software and all of the core features are finally integrated. Most of what’s left is just tying up loose ends and fixing bugs.
Beyond the software, the two big things that remain are completing the design of the site and writing the content for all of the pages (I.E. what the site is and how to use it). The design is especially challenging because it is the one thing that I truly can not do myself. It doesn’t matter how many hours I sit in front of Illustrator fiddling with shapes and colors, everything I make just looks unsatisfactory. There’s really no substituting a professional web designer which is problematic because professional designers have high costs and lengthy timelines associated with them. It doesn’t help that I’m extremely picky about designs. I have a proof from a local designer and though I like a lot of the elements I think it needs some work before it’s ready to be integrated into the site.
January 15th, 2008
Hello and welcome to our new blog. This blog will be following the development and evolution of the project that is to become the Intuu social network. We’ll be covering just about everything related to bringing this social network from concept to launch and probably a few unrelated topics as well. We’re going to keep it pretty informal and try to have some fun while chronicling this project.
The concept of the Intuu social network is centered around people’s passions and interests in life. The goal is to create a network that allows people to connect with each other based on the things they care about most in life. Painting, rock climbing, animating, keeping bonsai trees, whatever it is, that’s what Intuu is about. Users can find like-minded people and see all of the interesting things that other users are in to. Enthusiasm is the theme at Intuu and cultivating an environment where that kind of enthusiasm can flourish freely is the goal.
More to come soon.