Branch vs Pandawhale
Christina Wodtke stashed this in social
I feel like both are working toward the same thing, though branch is more quora like, with small talk rather than questions being the social object and pandawhale URLs are (a pinterest meets delicious).
What can they learn from each other?
Sometimes on PandaWhale the social object is an image, animated GIF, or video, along with the URL of origin.
The main thing I learned from Branch is that when you hit people with a wall of words, their eyes glaze over. Don't do that.
The main thing Branch could learn from PandaWhale is to embrace the chaos. Real conversations are messy, open systems, not sterile and closed to world.
Pandawhale could learn design from Branch. :)
Adam is right, my eye have glazed over from walls of text...and the conversation is ... Not anti-social, but not welcoming either.
Branch has strong classic visual design, i.e. good line length, elegant composition, good font/size choice, good icon use. Like quora, their decision to not push for images has led to a text-y site. Hackernews is similar. Pandawhale has a visibly naive design, which may engender trust, but also may cause some to dismiss it as a hobby.
BUT in all social sites, nothing matters as much as the seed audience, and activity. branch has some impressive participants http://branch.com/b/on-shipping-products but they often feel disingenious to me; employees and investors + friends. on the other hand, how do you think Linkedin started?
Pandawhale has a much more tight-knit community feeling. Like we are in it together, as entrepreneurs, and it's a safe place to be a complete human, cheezburgers included. I can't imagine posting an animated gif on Branch, while here it feels like part of staying sane. :)
One of the few places we can be complete humans! Well-said Christina.
Also agree with Christina's comments on design; not able to put it in words, but that's what I had meant.
Both interesting products, interesting to see how they both evolve!
Oh, and there are a number of problems in the bookmarklet interface
* most of time the stashit is offscreen, and I have to go fullscreen to access it
* error messages are vague and unhelpful (error found)
* category interface very clunky, painful to use and you can only place in one categy. consider autocomplete.
AND C'MON-- PANDA ON A BRANCH! IS THAT NOT THE IMAGE FIND OF THE WEEK?
That was a great image find!! :)
The Bookmarklet category interface does do autocomplete. Just type in the combo box and it will start to autofill.
I don't get the impression that Branch has a seed community. Each web page has a handful of participants but they all knew each other prior to te web page.
By comparison, hardly anyone on PandaWhale knows each other so it's a place where new people can meet.
You're right that we resist visual designs that are slick like Branch and Quora because we believe slick visuals discourage people from participating.
The most participated-in site in the world, Facebook, resists visual slickness, too. As do Flickr and YouTube.
Do we have lots to improve? Of course. But we do have this guiding philosophy:
We want PandaWhale to be a place where you always feel comfortable adding an animated picture.
Check it out -- went for one and scored a triple!
I agree 100% that this is an awesome community. And that, in the end, makes or breaks social.
But look at Facebook-- they are simple, but obey line length, grid, font choice, etc. I remember when Rhyz and Linkedin were head to head.. many tings informed Linkedin ascendancy, but I can't help but wonder if a simple but classic design philosophy helped engender trust.
and i hope that pandawhale is always a safe place to share animated gifs, cats sleeping on computers and even drawing of spaghetti carbonara
Mmmmm... Spaghetti carbonara.
Facebook pays attention to line choices, grids, fonts, etc now.
But pre-funding in 2004 Facebook was a hot mess of photo-less table layouts.
In the future we'll have more consistency of design but right now design gets traded off with scaling, bug fixing, and feature development.
Such is the life of a seed stage startup.
We must walk before we can run.
I mostly bring this up because I am a design founder and I think it's an important question of when design belongs in your product. I heart pandawhale, but the design varies from pleasantly folksy to occasionally obstructionist with poor affordances and reading challenges. Have I quit because of it? Not yet. But there have literally been times when I haven't been able to post which reduces interaction (or holds me down, depending on your point of view).
I think every single founder has to ask themselves where design fits into their decisions and their priority list. Some sites will use design to compete, some feature sets, some engineering innovation (speed, comprehensiveness), some the rampant charm of their founders...
I tend to agree with Christina, as someone who posts and comments frequently.
I love the community here. I feel safe and welcome. I appreciate that. I do think that baking in design sooner rather than later would be better for both the community and for the company.
Christina, under what circumstances have you been unable to stash? If it's a functional issue I will try to address it quickly.
The bookmarklet's stash form is too tall for certain viewports, but I didn't disable vertical scrolling (in the user agents I've tested, anyway), so I'm not sure exactly why you were unable to stash.
David and Christina: we all really appreciate you guys using the site and giving us feedback.
For the time being we are severely restricted the number of developer hours we can spend on improving the product. Everything from the structure of the database to the CSS is not good enough yet.
The bookmarklet is one of my main interests about the service, and I wish I could spend more time making it as good as possible. I believe Pinterest has 3 people working on their bookmarklet. PandaWhale just has me working on it (and less than 10% of the time, at that), so I've had to make strict trade-offs on a lot of things.
We think that we'll be able to get more help in the relatively near future, and at that time I'd love to spend more time improving both the design and the functionality of the bookmarklet.
In the mean time, the vast majority of what little time I do have for the bookmarklet is spent getting it to work on as many different sites as possible, and able to detect and pick up as many different types of content as possible.
And to that you've been doing a phenomenal job, much appreciated. I'd say 95% of the sites I visit it picks up most, if not all of the content.