Mario Sundar

LinkedIn's 2nd PR hire. These are my thoughts on products, public relations, and startups.

Riya’s makeover: My 3-point take

Over the past weekend, there’s been some blogosphere buzz on the Riya story, told through the eyes of a marketer (Tara) and an entrepreneur (Munjal), and rightly so. It’s inspirational so all ye wannabe web 2.0 marketers — Read & LEARN.

Also, thanks to Tara Hunt a.ka. Miss Rogue, for stopping by my blog post. I can’t wait to hear the rest of the story from Munjal and you.

My good friend, Jeremiah, just posted his take on Riya’s new home. So I thought I may as well take a stab at Riya’s makeover as well (that’s what I love about blogging).

Important caveat: I know how much hard work it is to get a website up & running (having been a software developer myself) and how easy it is for someone like me to pontificate on how it could be better, so kindly bear with me. These are my personal opinions as a wannabe user & as a marketing practitioner and are totally meant to be constructive. If you’d rather hear from a professional web usability guru, like Jakob Nielsen, head over here.

Riya’s Makeover

What is Riya’s value proposition (in my eyes & I may be wrong):

(1) Riya is Flickr 3.0. It is the evolution of Flickr. While Flickr tags with words, Riya tags with images. So if you tag my image as ‘Mario Sundar’, the technology will enable all pictures with my image to be auto-tagged as Mario Sundar without my input. Awesome to ME! But does the rest of the tech-agnostic world know that?

(2) As a user, I’ll look for annoyances with Flickr that I can solve with a competitor. For ex. Flickr charges for me to upload images beyond a certain limit, would Riya do the same? Is it faster in delivering results than Flickr? Whatever the incremental benefit from competitors (whoever they are) I need to see that upfront (on the homepage) so I can get hooked to this cool new service. Here are more Flickr weaknesses in Michael Arrington’s own words

My 3-point take:

1. Focus on the KILLER: For any company (bricks or clicks), differentiator is killer. Riya’s got a killer differentiator (AI Picture recognition), that an agnostic user cannot easily fathom. Nor does the opening page articulate that. Take Flickr – the opening page states clearly “The best way to store, search, sort and share your photos” and has 1 search box ONLY. That’s a direct indicator of one of the values they promise – search, and that builds user confidence that tagging works. Another example would be You Tube with their “watchuploadshare” icons. New users need to know what Riya’s killer differentiator is, on their homepage.

2. Ask and you shall receive: The premise behind every simple design (web or world) is to not overwhelm the user but to give them tiered options. Flickr does that with their “Explore Flickr” link that then leads you into a page with Sets and Groups only IF you want to swim in a sea of myriad images.

3. Watch the expert: Ask Google – the search engine, NOT Google – the Video store, about design simplicity and value proposition. I’m glad Google has hired Doug Bowman (the man with the plan blogs here) AND for the “King of Simple Cool”; just ask APPLE (Check out Apple’s video store)

Bottomline to me: SIMPLE IS COOL, SIMPLE WINS USERS & did I mention – APPLE IS COOL!

Riya can be SO COOL. I can’t wait.

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