Yi Hang did a really well-paced, clear and concise presentation about Ello yesterday.
The following were my takeaways from the presentation:
- Ello is the Facebook for Artists
- Ello has aesthetically pleasing UI, while not providing the best UX.
- Commercial potential for Ello without advertisements is limited.
1) Ello = Artist Facebook
As mentioned, it used to be a competitor with Facebook, but pivoted towards a more niche target audience. As proof of this, while being a social network, it seems to be hardly known by others not in the field of Art(?). More importantly, prior to the presentation, I had misunderstood the app for Allo. The platform seems to allow users to share their artwork (often photographs) for others to see and share. I presume (I’ll get to this in a moment) that users are able to connect with others and subscribe to their posts. This seems to be neat but I can’t help but feel that this is a common concept that already exists as a few products on the market.
2) See no Touch Ello
As covered by Team 4, Ello is aesthetically pleasing. Yet, the few problems mentioned (lousy landing page, redundant icons, multi-column display, slow-ness) are in fact very true. A few of the problems, in fact, are rather detrimental to a potential new user of the App (like me). The sign up process takes place over a few pages, with each page having a latency of up to 1s (or at least it feels like it). By today’s standard, that’s pretty slow. To add on, there wasn’t any actual image rendering or large files to fetch. The multi-column display is also annoying on smaller devices, especially on the phone where the cursor is actually a fat human thumb (all human thumbs are fat in comparison to a cursor :P)
3) $$ Ello $$?
The two main ideas suggested are: freemium model and a service provider model. Freemium model seems to face an issue (as highlighted in the QnA) that there seems to be little benefit to paying users. Some counter suggestions about featuring posts of paid users may work in the short run, this might lower the quality of featured posts, driving away users in the long run. Also, this relies heavily on the actual effectiveness of a featured post. The second idea, providing services for online store may work. Using an in-built system to manage transactions and delivery may provide a lot of convenience for content creators and drive them to use this app more. However, there is the innate difficulty logistically, and work required. This also seems to be yet another pivot from their actual motive.
Personal Thoughts and experience trying Ello
While I do agree that it does look nice, I was not able to create an account to try out most features. Somewhere in between the latency and filling up of personal information, I landed on a page with a nice green button with “Discover Ello” written on it. It doesn’t actually do anything and there’s no further instructions. At this point, I could either refresh, or check my email for an activation link, but don’t really have a reason to.
edit: tried refreshing, now my username is taken up, i can’t login and don’t have any email from them hmm.
Using the app (w/o logging in), I realised that there seemed to be something lacking. It didn’t actually feel like a platform for people to connect. Clicking on a featured post brought up some nice pictures, and statistics about the post but I didn’t see any other user other than the author of the post. For a platform that connects people, it seems to be lacking that exact feature.
In addition to that, I feel like there are tons of competitors, even for the same niche target users. Instagram and Patreon are 2 of the main apps that I would consider.
Instagram – A much larger pool of diverse users meaning that you could potentially broadcast to a greater audience. This includes other artists, as well as non-artists that may be interested in buying / supporting the user. Allows users to share images/videos the same way it is featured in Ello.
Patreon – Comes with a pre-existing business model that allows users to become a Patreon by paying a subscription fee. This allows a constant flow of income through the website and allows patreons access to exclusive content. This helps both the content creator and Patreon itself.
Ello targets a niche target audience that does not include me so it is hard for me to appreciate Ello. On top of that, there seems to be a ton of competitor apps out there with all the features present and more. A network’s worth is determined mostly by the number of users, and Ello pales in comparison to some of the other networks out there. As Yi Hang mentioned, “I quit because none of my friends were using”. Perhaps, being a service provider might be a better path for Ello to follow.