An update version of this post can be found over on Medium
I was a huge fan of Aardvark.
Loved everything about their company and product.
They were the first company that I knew of that had testing built in the DNA of their company. They were going after the holy grail of social search (which IMHO twitter is the current winner) and then sold to Google which shut down the service.
This post isn’t really about them but I was reminded about them 2 weeks ago when my buddy Peter tweeted on the day Jelly launched publicly:
I agreed with him at the time, but after spending more time thinking about it, Joshua Shachter's product was Aardvark 2.0. Jig.com was acquired by Walmart Labs and was also eventually shut down.
Is Jelly Aardvark 3.0?
It doesn’t make a difference, but its important to note that Jelly is a completely different beast.
Jelly was built for mobile.
It might seem like thats not a big deal but it creates a completely different experience due to the inherent constraints and deliberate choices that need to be made.
Jelly is misunderstood
After first blush, people don’t get it.
But heres the thing about open ended system with constraints: people dont understand how to use them until they start using it.
Twitter and Snapchat come to mind as major networks that exemplify this.
The UI is often times sooo basic and people are shocked.
Heck I was even a quasi-hater on day one*
The poor UX ends up making people question the utility or even need of yet another app in our life.
My buddy Micah has shared his thoughts and early reactions to Jelly that I think is common amongst the early adopter crowd.
Jelly UX is dumb
What I find fascinating most in the early days of Jelly is watching how the questions evolve.
People are still playing with it, testing the limits and seeing what kind of questions works and which don’t.
Once people get out all the dumb questions out of their system, they will start using it for more important question.
This form of play in the UX is important for creating a strong bond with the product. Think about all the dumb questions you don’t think twice about asking Google.
Jelly UX is smart
Intention and action are really important to cultivate in a fleeting mobile environment.
The disappearing nature of the questions forces intention.
If you’ve ever experienced the painful Tinder accidental swipe left of a hottie, then you know that this is a big deal.; it forces the user to pay attention instead of the habit of just casually glossing over facebook/instagram feeds and not taking action.
In order to pay attention to something, you need to take a deliberate action and follow a specific question. This is a strong data point for engagement [notify you to come back to the app] and interest [know which questions to show you in the future].
Forcing photos with every question is another strong design decision.
People process images better than text.
Forcing every question to have an image primes the user with context + excitement
Jelly has potential
There’s still alot more that needs to be done but the potential is HUGE.
Twitter’s potential wasn’t realized until Summize focused their energies on Twitter search. I think at scale, Jelly search can be a juggernaut. But time will tell if they even go in that direction.
What will be interesting to see is if Jelly opens up an API or they can go about building a massive network alone. They already are doing simple associative processing the facebook and twitter graphs but can they do it on the context side.
Either way I’m smitten by their potential and wish them well.
Let’s just hope they don’t get acquired and then subsequently shut down.
BTW, Do you think the Jelly Team blasts Bootylicious all the time at their HQ or just when they push out new releases?