A new kind of “Hot or Not:” Swayable

This article and video reprinted with permission from Rackspace’s Building43.

Before starting Facebook, Mark Zuckerberg created FaceMash, which allowed Harvard students to rate the photos of other students. FaceMash was preceded by sites such as RateMyFace, AmIHot.com and perhaps most famously, Hot or Not. Today, Swayable is taking this side-by-side ratings concept and expanding it well beyond its origins to allow you to express an opinion on virtually anything.

“About 50% of my visitors are return [visitors],” explains Lindsey Harper, Founder of Swayable, “and the site’s pretty sticky so they’re spending time now creating things like ‘how should I wear my hair’, ‘what should I use for a profile picture’, ‘which shoes should I get at the store’. I’m seeing a lot of people play around with the app. They’re having fun creating different types of content, and I’m getting a lot of, so far, pretty good feedback.”

Swayable is currently available for the iPhone and on the web and will soon be available for Android devices. “With Swayable, you can be out and about with the iPhone app and maybe you see something funny you thought might be fun to share with your friends,” says Harper. “Traditionally, you’d take and picture and share it or maybe post it to Facebook. With Swayable, you can actually take a picture of two items and share that in what’s a Swayable Voting Unit. I have one-click share on the app so it’s literally take a picture, take a picture, [write a] quick description and you just share it out immediately to Facebook, Twitter, SMS and email. You can choose to share it to one person if it’s more personal, or you can choose to share it with everybody including the Swayable.com audience, and those votes come back real-time.”

Harper is a sole founder whose background is in marketing and project management rather than technology, so she took a somewhat unconventional path to getting her app developed and tested. After building a spec document, she posted a series of questions on Mechanical Turk to test the viability of the concept. “What I found from that,” says Harper, “was where my minimum viable product was. I found from that feedback what people would use it for…so it helped in validating the concept.”

Next, she put the development work up for bid on oDesk but soon realized that might not be the best fit for her project. She switched to beyondsoft.com to complete the work. Then Harper went back to Mechanical Turk to hire approximately 250 testers to complete registration, use the site and provide feedback.

She constantly monitors user patterns on the site to optimize the experience, and it seems to be working. The number of visitors and page views doubled and tripled respectively the first two months the site was operational, and average page views per visit is increasing 1 to 2 pages per month. “Forth to fifty percent [of users] are bringing their friends,” says Harper, “so that growth is just naturally happening because [users] are coming back.”

More info:

Swayable web site: http://www.swayable.com/
Swayable profile on CrunchBase: http://www.crunchbase.com/company/swayable
Swayable on Twitter: http://twitter.com/swayable
Lindsey Harper on Twitter: http://twitter.com/harperlindsey

About Robert Scoble

As Startup Liaison for Rackspace, the Open Cloud Computing Company, I travel the world with Rocky Barbanica looking for what's happening on the bleeding edge of technology and report that here.

5 thoughts on “A new kind of “Hot or Not:” Swayable

  1.  Cialis……….

    Dopo le droghe come Viagra e Cialis ha rivoluzionato il trattamento di disfunzione sessuale maschio verso la fine degli anni 90, un turbine di neve dei test clinici sono stati condotti in donne nelle speranze che le droghe potrebbero fare lo stessi per fare rivivere l’azionamento di sesso diminuente della donna……………..

    http://www.medicinaligenerici.com/
     

  2. Robert, the editor in me is pushing me to take you to task for something you have been doing  lately.  Compare these two description forms:

    “Taking a look at A: it’s like B, for C”
    “It’s like A for B … this is a look at C”
    I seriously doubt that anyone talking with you wants to be the ‘C’ when you write your headline.

    In my opinion, while the comparison to hot-or-not is valid, Swayable is substantially different and in many ways more versatile and practical.

    But back to the A, B, and C thing: if you like what you are seeing, you should give it top billing. (And if you didn’t like it, maybe you should skip publishing anything about it).  Everybody would like to be remembered as the subject of their own headline, but it seems to me a little too often lately you keep giving that away to others.

    I think back to what seems to have been several times you have named Color first, when the people you’re actually visiting with are dramatically different.  Cooliris, for example, should be pretty peeved with you.  You can write more editorial pieces on how much influence Color, or Hot or Not, has had, at some other time.  When you’re writing a headline for Swayable, your focus should be on Swayable.

    All just my opinion, of course

    @Niall a lot of people say they want straight-across honesty.  Even though they may be sincere, they may still be mistaken.  One of my contacts, a brilliant author who eschews most social interaction, has recently proposed “Ask a Smart Guy Without Empathy” and maybe time will tell if such a service, when actually delivered, is still valued by those who had sought it.  But I don’t think that’s what Swayable represents at all. 

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