Is Your Site Wii-Ready?

Finally got my Nintendo Wii, the latest game console from the Japanese videogame giant. I’ve had a few weeks to play with it and I believe Nintendo might have stumbled upon an Internet surfing killer-app (with or without knowing it). The Wii comes pre-loaded with a version of the Opera browser and you can easily surf the web on your TV from your couch using the very imaginative wii-mote.

I ended up spending 2 hours on Saturday night watching all sorts of clips from YouTube and other video sites. It also made me think in terms of business opportunity. Most sites are currently not configured for the TV screen. You can access them but user experience is not optimal. Given that the Wii installed base is growing like crazy (5.84M consoles sold since November) and that Nintendo expects to sell 14M more in the next 12 months, this console will de facto become an important tool to access web content.

In addition, Nintendo will put energy behind the web access aspect of the Wii as we can see from this Gamespot quote: “As for the Wii, the company said it “will further intensify Wii’s ‘Channel’ concept which already includes the abilities for the Wii owners to create their caricatures, view weather forecasts, news, and surf the web. Wii will encourage communication among family members as each of them can feel something relevant to themselves and be motivated to turn on the power everyday in order to enjoy ‘the new life with Wii.'”

What it means: given the large installed base of the Nintendo Wii, make sure you have a wii-enabled (wiinabled?) version of your site. You’ll need larger font size and bigger buttons. From a design point of view, you can inspire yourself by looking at DVD menu screens. Promote the fact that you’re wii-compatible on your home page and reach a new user base surfing the web in their living room.

How to “Reward” Your Users in a Social Media Environment: the Yelp Example

Having worked in the videogames industry in a previous life, I was intrigued by this blog post by Jeremy Liew from Lightspeed Ventures Partners. In it, he discusses how point systems can reward user behavior in social media and takes Yelp as an example.

Here’s an excerpt from his post:

Look at a typical Yelp user page

Yelp Profile Page

Note that each number (circled in red) corresponds to a user behaviour that Yelp wants. Most important of all is the number of reviews – in this case 26. But almost as important is that those reviews are of high quality – that they are Useful (45), Funny (4) or Cool (11). Readers of reviews can with one click rate a review as Useful, Funny or Cool, and this positive feedback incents users to write reviews that will earn the appropriate feedback. Another important metric for Yelp is Firsts (7) as this helps drive the coverage ratio of businesses that have at least one review. (…)

An interesting point to note is that while reviewers rate businesses with 1-5 stars, users can only rate a review as Useful, Funny or Cool. There is no option to rate a review as Useless, Lame or Boring. Thumbs up, but no thumbs down. Why the difference? I suspect its because reviewers drive Yelp . Positive feedback is more likely to drive more reviews than negative feedback. (One of the “compliments” that Yelp users can send each other is even more explicit – “Write More!”). On the other hand, giving a business a poor rating (1 star for example) won’t change their behaviour towards the site one way or the other, and it is valuable information to users. (…)

What it means: in the traditional business directory world, there are all sorts of promotions to incent the advertiser to “contribute”, i.e. be the first to advertise in a specific heading, add more content to his/her ad, etc. But not a lot of thoughts is being put into the user side of the equation. In a user-generated content world, you need to think about your user “incentive plan”. How will you motivate your user contributors? I am a strong believer in point systems as they put a numeric face on your contribution. A bit like your school report card. “Did you do well this year?” “Are you top of your class?”, etc. This motivates contribution. I suspect though that this system must create a pareto principle effect, with 20% of your users contributing 80% of your content. These are the people you want to identify and nurture.