In the past week or so I have tweeted a couple of sceptical tweets about the new social media network Ello. I have since then actually been so privileged to be invited to Ello and gotten an account set up and had a look around.
Ello’s motto is ‘simple, beautiful and ad-free’ and is a statement about their counter reaction to big and popular social media sites like Facebook, Twitter and Youtube who are plastered with ads, and collect a lot of data about the users to be able to target their ads more directly.
I must admit that the ad-free experience you get in Ello is liberating, even though I say to myself that I don’t care about and notice the ads on other social media. I know many people say that, but once you experience them not being there you suddently realize how annoying they actually are.
You have probably already seen the design. And yes it is simple, whether it is beautiful is up to the individual. The use of Courier New typeface is a classic ”arty/designy/hipstery” choice and adds to the simplistic design and is also a statement about going back to the basics. The same is the deal with the color scheme of black, grey and white. I’m not sure I completely understand the smiley like logo but I suppose it’s a symbol of the happy and anonymous user, and it is easy recognizable.
The Ello Discover page
There are some minor bumps in the usability. If I want to find new connections, the one choice I have is to go ‘Discover’ where I get a list of more or less random profiles (I actually have no idea how random they are), I don’t have the choice to search for specific people, I have to have the URL to their profile to find and add them to my connections.
Another bump is that I have 2 feeds, one with content that my Friend connections share and one with content that my Noise connections share. In the Friend feed I also get information about activities, like who I’ve started to follow and who’s following me, whether they are in the Friends or Noise connections. It’s a bit confusing.
A third bump is maybe not a bump, but just something you need to get used to. When you are having conversations with someone you communicate via your feeds, much like you do on Twitter. So when you scroll through people’s profiles to see bits of conversations. There’s not much privacy about that.
The Ello Noise page
I am still sceptical about whether Ello will succeed, despite the hype. The primary target group for Ello is clearly the same kinds of people who made it: artists and designers. When you go ‘Discover’ other Ello profiles you meet a lot of creative people who upload inspirational material like videos, images and gifs. It’s not bad if you, like me, are interested in design and art and always look for inspiration. I wouldn’t put Ello in the category of being a direct competitor to the main social media sites we’ve got today. You could maybe compare it to Tumblr and Pinterest, but on a smaller scale.
Another reason for my scepticism is the funding. I can’t stop asking myself how on earth they are going to survive economically. There are some features you can pay for, if you feel like it, and I really think that the freemium business model is the way to go for Ello. We already know the concept of freemium from Spotify, LinkedIn, online newspapers, anti-virus software etc.
There’s also been a lot of fuss about the venture capital with FreshTracks Capital, and I also believe it’s a dangerous path to go down. No matter how good intentions they claim to have, there will always be a demand for profit. And how is Ello going to make a profit now? Right now it’s just not possible. And when the $435,000 is used? They call FreshTracks again.
The Ello Friends page
Keeping in mind that Ello is still in beta and they keep improving every day, it is clear that Ello is a very interesting concept, and is definitely a symptom of a general movement in the online community. People are tired of being the bitches of big business. Let’s hope Ello won’t become a bitch of big business as well.
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