I signed up for the new Ello social network a few months ago and today received my beta invite. So, I cleared my desk and spent all morning uncovering the new “ad-free social network”.
Ello is a new social network that wants to get back to being social and not about advertising. Some have called it a Facebook killer, some have questioned its future, but either way Ello has caused a stir in the social media community.
One of the main things that separates Ello from the rest of the social media world its is clear cut, anti-advertising manifesto, and in it Ello suggest that popular social networks have become data collecting tools for ad networks:
Virtually every other social network is run by advertisers. Behind the scenes they employ armies of ad salesmen and data miners to record every move you make. Data about you is then auctioned off to advertisers and data brokers. You’re the product that’s being bought and sold. (source)
Ello aims to be a new network with a focus on empowering users and going back to basics with sharing content and connecting people, rather than collecting data and selling it to advertisers.
The site feels a bit rebellious and as an edge that has attracted thousands of daily signups in a short period of time.
First impressions of Ello are pretty good. It’s a simple, clean design that takes a typical social network framework and starts its design from scratch.
The home feed is like any other, and split into 2 sections.
There is also a notifications section where comments, mentions and follows will appear.
As far as user onboarding goes, there is no sign of hints or tutorials to show how the new system works. It is fairly self-explanatory since much of the layout looks very similar to other networks, but some features such as sharing take some time to find. Compare for example Facebook’s post call to action with Ello:
The site does have a good element of interaction to it, as the more you click the more you find, but I think in the long run if Ello plan to grow into a ultra popular community with this, they will need to improve their UX for the general public (IMO). I thought many of the icons and design features were too small and not clearly labeled.
Adding posts is the same as most other sites. In the header of the page, there is a “Say Ello” button that lets you type and upload status updates.
You can of course then edit or delete, and then view the views and comments on the item. Pretty standard features.
Currently, you can share text updates and images, and also tag other users in text updates with the classic @ sign method. This is pretty good for such an early social network, but there is no tagging of images at the moment.
Adding comments is nothing new, but there is no like or share feature. There is a “love” and “love bookmark” feature in the pipeline that could replace this in the future, but for the moment users need to type their feedback.
Profiles are quite basic at the moment but take on a Twitter style design, with a standard profile picture, header and bio (you can see mine here). Users can also add links to other sites on the web. The design here seems to focus on updates and sharing rather than demographic info and personal bios.
So overall, there is not much that is very unique with the social network in terms of its design or functionality. The major difference however, comes with its manifesto and ad-free focus which is a watershed in the social space.
However, I am not sure of the long term future with Ello. Although its manifesto is quite political and radical, I wonder how it will scale and function and more importantly, grow into a community.
Ello has already received some major funding, so how they turn Ello from trendy rebel to functioning social network will be interesting.
It is important to note that Ello is still in beta and is currently invitation only. Their feature list does promise new items like mobile apps, likes and richer commenting so I expect most of the features I discussed he will change in the coming weeks of development.
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