23 July 2010

Simler.com Is Dead

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If you try to load up www.Simler.com right now, you will be redirected to The Simler Blog where the last blog post in it reads:

With Heavy Hearts…

Today we are sad to close the doors on Simler. We had some lofty goals—to change the world by building on common interests. And although we are closing Simler today, we’d still like to believe that we made a positive impact on some of your lives. We know that some of you met new people that seemed like long lost friends on our service, because we did too. So on an individual level, we did do precisely what we set out to do, simply manifested in a different way.

We thank each one of you for your support over the last year. We have drawn encouragement and inspiration from many of you, and look forward to continuing to cultivate these relationships in other ways. So please keep in touch with at least one of the endless ways that we have available to us in this modern age!


Ryan “MrG” Goodwin and the rest of the Simler team

So, that means Simler is dead and to make matters worse i only noticed a week after it happened and at the time this post was written. Simler has been dead for over a month.

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What was Simler?.

Simler was a Tag Based Social Messaging Network. For it to be truly understandable you would need to think back to Pownce, if you happen to know what that was and then add Tags as the focus of it. But if you don’t really remember Pownce or you are curious about what Simler was. You can read my fairly extensive preview i posted about it from back when it originally came into the social web scene.

Simler was the brainchild of Ryan Goodwin as you can read in a interview i also posted here in Appatic. It is even a better read now that the project is dead.

I liked Simler  a lot when it launched. So much i wrote a long and detailed post about it and also posted that interview as i wanted the site to succeed. It was fresh take on the same idea Pownce originally brought to the table and it had the potential to be as good for having conversations as Rejaw.

Hell, i even went as far as winning a t-shirt of the site i still like quite a lot. It really had captured my interest.

Why it failed?.

There are many reasons why a project fails. Even when it is a project that you could argue and rationalize was really good. I do not intend to state i know all the reasons, but i do can offer you some reasons of why it failed for me and for some others that used it.

I.-Growth Problems

Simler originally launched as a private beta web only project. It was a modest success. The community was lively, friendly and you could really hang out on it. Site was well thought out and as far as i tested it, everything worked as it should and it was truly cross-browser and cross-platform in terms of how it worked in a browser.

Then as it was turned into a public beta, something went horribly wrong while it was in its initial development.

It then started loading slow, being glitchy in the still nascent Chrome and downright Horrible in IE7 or even in the still new at the time IE8.

And as i have said many times, like with the failure of Pownce. If your Web project don’t supports IE well (at least IE8), don’t expect that your web project manages to get popular enough or be around long enough to have a impact. It is really that simple.

II.-Promoted At The Wrong Time

The strangest thing about Simler was that, its creator (Ryan G) decided to promote the site when it was obvious that it was not working well enough but in two browsers (Safari and Firefox) and when it was also clear it had not reached a version 1.0 release.

What was worse is that it don’t even had a Mobile Website, a proper API, a Demo Desktop Client or  a Demo Mobile App. All things that people expected to be available when it was pushed into public beta. After all, it was launched in 2009, not 2007.

So why it was decided, it was a good idea to promote something that didn’t even worked right or had options for people to decide how to use it?.

I also want to state and clarify that i did complained and talked about this with Ryan (the creator, founder & ceo of it) at the time, but he was enthusiast on Simler getting all it needed soon enough. That of course never happened.

III.-Lack Of Coverage

Simler managed to get the attention of RWW and Mashable. But never got to be profiled by Techcrunch and other mainstream sites. It also didn’t updated with what it needed in order to generate follow-ups by RWW or Mashable, the biggest blogs it got initial coverage. The later is also a tragic because they even had advertised in Mashable’s feed. Yet they didn’t bothered with a single Follow-Up

IV.-Multiple Broken Promises

If you are a new web project without a big audience. Never promise early adopters, the blog press and your beta users a feature or release you are not anywhere near to deliver. And what its more important; Don’t promise it multiple times and then continue to fail in delivering it.

Unfortunately, this was the sad case of Simler. It promised a 1.0 release, a mobile site and a iOS app that they never ended up delivering widely. 

For example, they originally were supposed to reach version 1.0 by late 2009. At least that was what i was told. I was originally going to run my full review of the site in November or December of 2009 based on when version 1.0 was supposed to be reached.  Almost 9 months passed and Simler never reached version 1.0. It was stuck in 0.9 during all its uptime. The same thing happened with the promised mobile site and mobile app.  The API was also never mature or stable enough for it to be used according to some Simler users that tried to build something out of it.

V.-Design Flaws

Simler was all about letting its users relate by having threaded conversations based in common interests, that could be engaged via network-wide available Tag Streams.  But that focus had two major design flaws:

1.-Unlimited Tags and Tag Streams

The number of Tags a user could have and could use had no limits or boundaries.

This created the problem where conversations were scattered  in endless tag streams and tag abuse got to be rampant.

2.-Reply to a Reply In A Thread Could Create Another Thread.

Threaded conversations let anyone reply to a reply reply.

No, that is not a typo. This means you could reply to what someone had replied to a reply for a message and this was turned into its own thread within a thread. And what was worse is that it could go that way endlessly.  This resulted in confusing notifications for conversations you would not really could care about and it pretty much diluted a conversation and the purpose of having threaded conversations in the first place.

Other important design flaws were:

3.-Not a open site

While Simler was about all about conversations. If you were not a user and was curious to see how Simler worked. You could not easily navigate the site and check how people were using it like you could in Pownce or Rejaw.  It was not possible to have a good idea of how the site really worked without joining.

Maybe the rational for this was that it was also partly modeled off Facebook. But a Social Network and a Social Messaging Network (twitter,plurk,pownce,rejaw,etc) are two different things. What works for a Social Network, will not work for a Social Messaging Network. Don’t make it hard for the user to make up its mind or force him to register a account just to check out what is your site about.

4.-Not enough documentation

For such a rich social messaging network. you would expect it to have enough documentation on how things work and should work. But nope, that was not the case.

5.-No promo materials or extensibility. 

If you were a user in simler and liked it enough to want to promote it. You could not do so.

There were not a selection of Badges and Widgets for you to take out and put in your blog.

Conclusion

Simler was a excellent concept badly implemented. but what truly killed it was that it was also badly managed, just like it was in the case of Pownce and Rejaw.  It truly proves that you not only need to innovate, but to make sure you create something innovative everyone is able to use and then support it well, so it grows well.

But i still hope to see a Social Messaging Network like Simler and Pownce eventually succeed.

R.I.P Simler.

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2 comments :

ChaCha Fance said...

Wow........ R.I.P. Simler. Good analysis btw. I got a t-shirt too and I'll still wear it proudly lol.

Avatar X said...

@ChaCha

Yes, it is a awesome T-shirt. I also wear it proudly.

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