Archive for April, 2009

That’s it, the new WAYN is live!

Monday, April 20th, 2009

Hi everyone,

after a few months of hard work, the new WAYN is finally up and running – its only been a few hours since we went live but already, thousands of plans have been added and may this be the start of a long and exciting journey!

We have also added a synchronisation tool that allows you to synchronise your plans with Twitter and Facebook!

We will add another blog post shortly with more detail around the new WAYN but thought we would let you know about the exciting news!

Jerome

The New WAYN is coming…

Thursday, April 16th, 2009

Dziendobry from Polski!

After what feels like an eternity, we are almost ready to put the new version of WAYN into the public domain. There has been quite a bit of press about it already, and we havent even launched yet!

The first article that came out was in the Telegraph, where we were featured on the front page of the business section, had a full page lead, and Richard Tyler did a great job of summarising our new vision for WAYN and why we are trying to be bold and redefine ourselves AGAIN. If there’s one thing that we’ve learned in our short history, it is that we should not be afraid of change, and we are very excited by this new area of focus for us. To check out the press article, you can see a screen grab of it below, which links to the online article:

wayn-in-telegraph

As you can see – it is pretty big! Let’s hope that the new release proves to be as big ;) We are also featured on the front page of Travolution, which is one of the leading online media sources in Europe for the travel industry, with a full blog article written by Kevin May, which you can read here. Both articles have created a stir, but perhaps the most recent one added by Mike Butcher from TechCrunch UK, is getting most people talking, and that, is in part, we feel, because it does, in our mind, innaccurately compare us to trying to copy Dopplr with our new focus. Thankfully, some respectable bloggers made a point of countering the view made, and whether it was a kick in the nuts from Mike for not buying him a beer at the last entrepreneurial shindig, or because he didnt get his teeth into the story early enough (try catching him when he is on a week long bender in San Fran with the webmission crew!) is left for you to determine. In all fairness, we didnt have a proper chance to talk with Mike about it and he made is own conclusions based on the screenshots, which we provided to him before anyone else. We like Mike, so dont get us wrong, so I am sure we will kiss and make up over a pint of beer soon, but hopefully in future, he will check the facts before going pressing the “publish” button ;) To read the article in full, click here.

The points that we would like to, on record, counter from the TechCrunch article are as follows:

1 – “WAYN next strategy: copy Dopplr”: This statement is completely false. We are certainly not focusing on the “where next” angle and in fact it is clear that WAYN was the first real social network to offer users the ability to log their past, present and future trips, way back in May 2003 in our first ever version. ;) Dopplr in fact came to the market a few years later. It is clearly flattering to see that a number of followers have come to the market since, including Dopplr, but to see our new focus as being focused on “where next” is incorrect. We believe that one of the main reasons that Dopplr still has a lot less traffic than us, is because knowing where people are going to next, in and of itself is not that compelling. We are much more focused on the “what” next. “Where”, along with “when” are important elements that add context, but the “so what?” is what is important here.

 2 – “WAYN was never – until now – about intentions broadcasting” – As highlighted above, where you are going next and where you would LIKE to go (what we call “Trip Wishes”) are again, features that we added years ago. In fact, our users add up to 700,000 trips every single month, a large proportion of which are focused on where people are going as well as where they would like to go, and we have successfully brought thousands of people together based on that, and continue to do so today and will hopefully tomorrow also. We have no intention (no pun intended) of removing this feature, as it remains one of the core values that WAYN provides to its customers.

 3 – “And besides, if Dopplr was copying WAYN its numbers would be going down too”: WAYN recorded its highest numbers of uniques last month, with 7.8m monthly uniques (Nielsen and Akamai) in Feb 09, which represents a 26% increase year on year from the same period. We have also be storing up a lot of the new innovations into this new release rather than introducing small new features along the way, so we are looking forward to seeing what the next few months hold for us.

 4 – “It was an old fashioned social network for kids on their gap year“: This is quite ironic given that WAYN is an over 18′s site, and in some respects is an insult to our loyal members, who are in reality a global community representing a cross-section of people from all ages. We may have been a bit Old Fashioned, but many of our members liked our cutesy look and feel, and I am sure, will be upset to see it go, but we thought it was about time for a fresher look and feel and a more simplified navigation process, and we hope clearly our members embrace the change, being the travel and lifestyle oriented folk that they are. :) For the record, 60% of our users are between the ages of 18 to 35 and 40% are over the age of 35. I think we can all agree that 15 million users worldwide does not correlate with the size of the backpacker market, although I wish it did, as more people should travel and see the world (and of course offset their carbon!) ;)

So, hopefully, that clears up a couple of loose ends. We still appreciate the coverage as it all helps in people talking about what we are doing, and we are certainly not scared of putting WAYN in the spotlight following our launch, even if it does mean that some people come out and say they dont like it. In the end of the day, any feedback is good feedback, as otherwise, how are we ever going to learn how to get things to work the way they should?!

I will leave you with only 2 examples of the new offering, which are in the public domain now anyway. Below is a screengrab of our new splashpage, which highlights a number of new elements including:

  • WAYN being represented as the “lifestyle and travel” social networking site
  • New representation of WAYN logo, without the WAYN character (Where is WAYN? promo coming soon..)
  • Site offering characterised by the new user value proposition: Plan, Find, Meet and Share
  • Illustration of new Plans offering
  • Facebook connect integration
  • Links to new take a tour and video explaining the essence of the new and improved WAYN
  • New Header format, which will be on rotation and also used as a unique ad placement for brand partners to utilise

New WAYN Splash Page

And finally, here is a screenshot of the new “Plans” element on the page, which will feature prominently on the site, and will allow our users to plan what they are up for doing with their friends and see who else is up for doing the same things as them. In this screenshot it is shown fully expanded to show how you can invite people from not only WAYN, but also other friends networks (initially Twitter and Facebook). We decided to change the ordering of the icons from W F T to W T F as we thought that these letters stood for something more funny and it made us giggle. I wonder how many people will notice it? ;)

Plans with Invite Box expanded

Right, back to the grind… Only a few days left before we launch the new version of WAYN. Please dont crucify us if you find some bugs – it happens. We’d rather give it to you guys to have a play with as you will all be much better beta testers than us, and…. happy planning! It should be a lot of fun :) – whether you’re planning to do nothing except sit at home and read boring blog posts to take up your evening; go to the pub on the weekend to watch England cruise through to the world cup finals in Souh Africa (and meet up with like-minded people there when we get there!); or of course if your interested in finding out who else is up for a weekend of fun in Vegas; or even learning a new language (preferably not a development language, as then it really would become a bit dry!)… Hopefully the new WAYN will have something for all of you

Wish us luck!

Pete

Our release is fast approaching

Monday, April 6th, 2009

In a few weeks time, WAYN will show a different face to the world – we have been writing about the upcoming changes some time ago and very soon, we will include more detailed views of  the new WAYN as we approach our imminent Go Live date. 

One thing needs to change though: our main navigation. Looking at analytics, it is clear that the overall site usage is too complex to most users – the taxonomy on the toolbar is challenging and the overall design cluttered.  Thanks to the feedback received from many users, we will be facilitating an environment much easier to interact in, and we strongly believe that many of our services will then start becoming a lot more apparent to most users, driving more usage and time spent within the community: to keep in touch with existing friends and / or make new ones of course ;)

But the prime change will also add a new dimension to our current service offerings by combining Travel with a new vertical focus being Lifestyle – Travel clearly entails seasonality patterns and we are very excited to bring a new dimension to the community that will encourage more daily usage and to capture a lot more content which should prove absolutely key to the advertisers for the years to come. This should also convert to more growth opportunities as we are looking to embrace more ‘Open Social’ strategies and therefore further growth on uniques.

Despite the crisis and the intensified competitition in the community world, our trending is still very positive with last March at its highest point with nearly 8m unique visitors (Source: Nielsen Netratings / Akamai)

unique-trending

Few more days of hard work and we should be pretty much soon to rock (on beta mode!) :)

I also talk about this new vision in the interview below – the count down has started!

Interview on coming release here

Jerome


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