So what have we learned after one week of The Conversations Network new website and features?
- Listener-Supported Audio Works. Well, it’s too early to declare complete success, but so far the rate at which our listeners have signed up for paid memberships ($25-$200 per year) has met our expectations.
- Communities Give Great QA. As much as we tried to find and fix bugs before launch, nothing is as good as a few thousand people who beat up on your web site. I continue to be impressed that so many people take the time to carefully document problems they find and send them in. Even the typos.
- Restricting Access to Anything is a Delicate Business. Did we make the right decisions as to what features and access to limit to paid members? Again, it’s too early to know for sure, but it may be that we’ll need to loosen some restrictions in the months ahead. For example, since the rating system is now for members only, we’re getting far fewer ratings — not even enough in some cases to provide statistically accurate results. The same may be true in our new discussion forums. Since only members can post, very few people have done so.
We had forums on IT Conversations about two years ago, and they failed to gain traction then even though access was unrestricted. But listenership was very small then, and perhaps we didn’t give the forums enough time to succeed. We’ll be looking at all of these issues over the next 30-60 days and make adjustments as necessary. Ain’t the web great? I love that unlike the old packaged software business it’s so easy to have real conversations with listeners and change course with relative ease when listeners tell you what to do. It’s like Doc Searls keeps saying: The demand side is taking control. I’m just along for the ride.