Web 3.0 formula discussion (4C, P, VS)
My Web 3.0 formula definition is here. Incidentally, it uses an example from the women’s vertical to articulate my vision for Web 3.0, so if you happen to be an entrepreneur or a product manager for a women’s site, you ought to look that up.
Most women’s sites are targeted at meeting the specific needs of women. Thus, users can look up strategies for tackling a tough boss at work or tips to rustle up low calorie delicacies. Though contextual split is not strictly observed, separate groups for working moms, young women, women above forty, weight loss achievers, etc. do exist in many sites.
iVillage for example has a very good contextual nuances and I really liked the Beauty and Style segment, especially the ‘New on Beauty & Style’. iVillage caters to contextual nuances by offering customized forums for like minded users like stay at Home Moms, Book Lovers, Going Green, featured blogs and groups like Solo Mom, Daily Blabber, and Pregnancy Central.
The Content of most of the women’s sites is impressive and addresses various issues related to women. Some have very high quality information as well as advice. Women can search for articles on parenting, beauty and style, health advice, tips on home décor, relationship, career advice, horoscopes, innovative recipes, etc.
The users can read interviews of celebrities (I guess women do track celebrities more often than men), read recent news articles from iVillage. Sites like Handbag enable users to listen to online music or play downloadable games like Lucy Q, PuzzleBook or Hammerhead. Jane allows users to upload pictures with storage capacity of 500k.
iVillage offers free online courses on personal finance, car buying, car safety, small business, etc. the users can enroll for these short term courses to get guidance, advice and tips from experts through e-mail. Sites like BellaOnline have featured articles on distance learning or even Spanish language tutorials.
Most women’s sites score extremely high on Community features. In fact the ability to interact and share experiences is the key driver for sites targeted at moms, working women, etc. Users can share their views, ideas, experiences and rate, photos, videos or comment on the posts.
Most of these sites have blogs, forums, message boards, live chats, open forums, and also weekly polls on latest issues. iVillage is the clear winner in community features with 18.6 million newsletter subscribers and 12 million message postings annually.
Community Challenge on iVillage is a feature that enables users to spread awareness by sharing experiences, advice and guidance on serious health issues like Breast Cancer, Autism, and Obesity. It has contributed 11% to 18% on unaided awareness among women.
Commerce on women’s sites is mainly through online retailing of products, downloadable games, music, etc. Apart from selling core ladies products like shoes, stoles, perfumes, sites like handbag also retail products like iPod, MP3 player, digital media player, sports gadgets, mobile phones, books.
I like Jane as it allows users to upload their stories and experiences and pays them royalty on being published. Interesting spin on user-generated content.
With niche sites like AdvancingWomen and ClubMoms coming up, online retailing could be more targeted towards specialized segments like working moms, fitness freaks or corporate honchos by meeting their specific requirements.
Personalization on women’s portals is mainly through the creation of personal profiles or personalized makeover images, newsletters and e-mail notification on special offers or new features. Sites like Jane have MakeUnder feature, which offers personalized makeover and style suggestions with considerations on budget, lifestyle and country. Nonetheless, my original Web 3.0 vision of an Online Personal Shopper remains unfulfilled, and thus an opportunity.
Vertical search on online women’s sites is limited. Sites like Jane allow users to search member profiles by location, background, tag, profile type, etc. Part of the reason for this, is that the women’s vertical is still operating in a largely broad-brushed, horizontal mode, and has not started zeroing in on the search-related issues of the various vertical contexts.