User Generated Tuesdays: You Say You Want A Webolution

January 2, 2007 - Get free updates of new posts here

This post is part of User Generated Tuesdays. If you want to be read by 1,000 new friends please go here. This is written by Robert Franklin who is the chief webolutionary at FamilyThrive.com.

I bet I know what you are a thinking: We all want to change the world, but what is a webolution? It is a way to get involved by using the Internet/Open Source as a tool to create global change. At its best, the Internet/Open Source enables caring individuals and communities throughout the world to trade ideas, nurture sustainability and help one another. Webolution is empowerment through technology.

In my opinion the Internet is barely at the Model T stage in the evolution of technological change that is engulfing our planet. Sites like UniversalGiving.org or Kiva.org are current innovative examples of the type of social impact the Internet can make. At no other time in human history has an average person had the opportunity to change the world while sitting in their underwear in their home office. As scary as this visual may seem to some, the possibilities that this raises are incredible exciting for the office-chair Webolutionary. This begs the question, so what are you going to do in your underwear? Surf the Web or help change the world? For the first time in the history of our planet individuals wearing underwear or not have the ability to change the world from the privacy of their homes.

I am the founder and Chief Webolutionary of FamilyThrive.com and our mission is to “Empower the Next Generation of Leaders.” FamilyThrive.com is an online community center that helps families thrive and grow together. FamilyThrive.com believes that strong families can change the world, and so we have created an advanced Web-based environment to support parents and to challenge teenagers and young adults to become the best they can be. We invite parents, teenagers, and young adults everywhere to come and grow together in dynamic new ways.

I bet I know what you are thinking: You say you got a real solution but you had better watch out for the techie trap. Over 10 years of working in the technology field has clearly taught this geek that technology is just a tool. What creates a webolution is finding out what your users want, empowering them with great content and tools, and making sure they want to find you and that they know how to do it. You also need to put on some clothes and get out in the world and start mixing it up, perhaps the subject for another blog, if Noah invites me back.

My goal with FamilyThrive.com is to build a successful model that other entrepreneurs can leverage to help propel their passion and purpose into successful action. My passion is Family and yours for the sake of argument is Global Warming, over time, I will share with you what we did to be successful. Our goal is to be the impetus behind 5,000 more Kiva.orgs or UniversalGiving.orgs.

Currently FamilyThrive.com is in soft launch and we are gearing up to attend the Investor’s Circle conference in San Francisco in May 2007. We are building a great team and actively working on creating an innovative model for sustainable social change. We have lots of work to do and need all the help we can get.

What do you think it will take for FamilyThrive.com to create a webolution? Check out our Web site and tell us what you think.

Feel free to contact me at Rob “at” FamilyThrive.com.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *


6 responses to “User Generated Tuesdays: You Say You Want A Webolution

  1. Kevin Henney Reply

    Robert-
    Interesting idea and a nice looking site (I’d ditch the table-based layout, though) . I just want to point out a few potential usability issues that you may want to address:

    The Login area is unlabeled. While it shouldn’t be too difficult to figure out what to do, with the fields being prepopulated with “Email” and “*****”, there’s plenty of room up there to make it clear what the form is for. At least make the text on the button say “login” instead of “go” (go where?). Regarding the prepopulated fields, A List Apart has a good article about accessible, compact forms here: http://www.alistapart.com/articles/makingcompactformsmoreaccessible

    Registration – You’ve got a great list of reasons to register on the left side of the front page. But after the user reads those and hopefully decides to register, they need to scroll back up to the top of the page to find the “register” button. Why not put another register button at the bottom of that list? Or a simple call to action with a link to the registration page? Also, once someone’s ready to register, consider reducing the number of required fields. Do you absolutely need to collect information like birthdate and education level? Every additional required field is another obstacle on the way to registration; consider requiring only what’s absolutely necessary.

    Search – your search box is also unlabeled, and uses the same “go” button as the login form. “Search” would be a better choice of button text. Also, I believe you’re breaking Google’s TOS by not displaying either the Google logo or “Google Search” on the button text. Customizing your search results page to match the rest of your site would create a more seamless experience.

    Those are just a few things that jumped out at me and might be worth looking into. Hope it’s helpful, and good luck with your site.

    Kevin

  2. Robert Franklin Reply

    Kevin,

    Thank you for your excellent feedback, it is very much appreciated. In the next couple of weeks we will be rolling out some significant changes to the Homepage and registration process which address some of the points that you raise. Your other excellent and simple to implement points will also be implemented as well.

    Thanks again for taking the time to critique FamilyThrive it is very much appreciated.

  3. Robert Franklin Reply

    Kevin,

    Interesting that you should mention ditch the table layout. The decision to go with tables vs. CSS was one that caused many passionate discussions bordering on the religious. It was a decision that I struggled with but eventually decided to not push for CSS even though in a perfect world it was what I preferred. FamilyThrive is built using Joomla and though the designer said it was easy to implement CSS in the Joomla templates my Joomla implementation consultant was struggling on implementing
    CSS and Joomla. Not only was he struggling but he was of the opinion that CSS was not critical to implement. After many discussions with the team and trusted advisors I made the decision that going with css was not important enough to risk alienating my Joomla expert and delaying the project. Looking back I feel it was the right decision. The Joomla expert has consistently gone above and beyond the call of duty.

    The one decision I do regret was deciding to go with a 800 by 600 layout instead of a larger layout. That one has continued to come back to haunt me. I often would love to have more Real Estate to play with.

  4. Kevin Henney Reply

    CSS vs. table-based layouts can indeed be a passionate topic among web developers, and I certainly wouldn’t fault you for following the advice of your expert.

    I developed web sites for years using tables before coming around to the benefits of CSS, so I do have some perspective on the benefits and drawbacks of each approach. I now use CSS exclusively because I believe it’s more search engine friendly and easier to maintain. The separation of presentation and content can also make it much easier to implement minor and major changes to a site’s layout. For example, with your current design, properly implemented in pure CSS, it would be fairly trivial to switch to a wider layout or even an elastic layout that adjusts to the size of the browser window. Not that you couldn’t accomplish the same thing with tables – CSS just makes it easier.

  5. Robert Franklin Reply

    Thanks for the feedback.

    We are taking baby steps in rolling out new functionality. With an open source website, every time we add a new component we have to go thru a round of testing on our staging server. The unglamorous side of being an entrepreneur 🙂

    We are currently working on adding Simple Machines Forums to the site. It is a mature and well-supported open source forum and integrates very nicely with Joomla our CMS, I highly recommend it. We will have forums at the Make A Difference project level and at the site level.