Initial Design Scope and Competitive Analysis of (TJT)

“What do strangers always ask you?” Everyone has something that strangers always ask them. Whether it’s about your physical appearance (How tall are you? What’s your ethnicity?), accent (Are you from Minnesota?), or career, it’s used to bridge silence, and it’s usually pretty annoying. ThatJamesTaylor is a place to hear and tell stories about these constant encounters and what they’re like.

Design Criteria for TJT
The point of TJT is to give strangers (anyone) an easy way to share stories and as such, function appears more important than form – it’s got to be very intuitive regarding how to post and how to find other interesting stories.

The design must lend itself to…

  1. Usability – first thing user sees is easy way to post text, photo, or video.
  2. Searchability – secondarily, search for topics that interest them or that are related to their story.
  3. Navigatibility – quick way to find posters similar to you, or search queries.

I want TJT to be robust with stories, so it’s imperative that whatever page the user lands on (homepage, post, other page, profile), there is a call-to-action and easy way for them to post their own story. Something along a popular or trending topics in a text cloud format to help users easily see what’s popular on the site is another design element that lends itself to navigation and search. The design must also lend itself to profile building; while users may post anonymously, there will be game mechanics (rankings) or at least something that rewards contribution.

It seems the most effective way to will be with a clean and minimal approach.

3 Audiences…
Everyone has something that strangers always ask them about (physical appearance, accent, career) to bridge silence, so the audience is potentially limitless for this (as long as people have easy and incented way to post). However, in the interest of thinking who early contributors or adopters to TJT might be…

  1. Over-sharer’s – these also happen to frequently be the people asking the annoying questions too, and there is no shortage of them in life.
  2. People with freakishly unique things about them – I’m 6’7” and would put myself in this boat, we like to congregate.
  3. Extreme-scene – these people will use TJT as a vehicle to put up there gnarly videos of them doing amazing things, because people always ask them about that…

Who are Competitors?
*  *  *

Linkedin:  Defacto job network and portfolio site. To have a professional career, you must post here.

To Borrow:

  • Profile promotion: The design lends itself well to promoting heavy users and rewarding their sharing of domain knowledge. They also have started cultivating personalities on the site and promote the hell out of them.
  • Clean: It has Nice white space to break things up.
  • Intuitive: They know what the users-intent is and don’t put barriers to getting there. Pages and sitemap and simple and easy to understand.
  • Search: The box is easily accessible and defaults to the 3 use cases most relevant (people, companies, jobs)

To Avoid:

  • Confusion: They are heavily promoting themselves as a news source (when they are not used for that). I don’t want to distract from the purpose of visiting my site.
  • Cold colors: This works for job search, but I want TJT to be more “electric!”

I Can Has Cheezburger:
Photos of your cat with cra$y captions! Easy to contribute and fun and all about PHOTOS.

To Borrow:

  • Visual Cues: Nice sliding cues to most popular and new posts.
  • Simple & Sticky: The site was designed to highlight funny captions of cats, they’ve stuck to that because its proven “sticky.”
  • Post Now!: The top call-to-action makes contributing a default.
  • Sharing Now!: Easy, yet fun call-to-share on every image.

To Avoid:

  • Cheesy: This is probably purposeful, but don’t like the font choice or overall look of the layout.

Share your stories, poems, writing, and all kinds of other crap no one wants to read. Too free-form, TJT is directed content that anyone can create.

To Borrow:

  • Branding/SEO: They are #1 search result for “share stories” related searches.
  • Clean/Simple: They have a 1 photo, one “abstract” layout that is 1 column.
  • Robust Commenting: Contributors contribute a ton of comments.
  • Rewarding Contribution: The site is designed to promote aspiring professionals, which is a great incentive to contribute… however (see below)

To Avoid:

  • Page to Contribute too wordy: I’ll have a FB connect login or something to make signup and post fast or at least perceived to be fast.
  • Feedback Mechanism: Perhaps not the intent, but there is a lot of feedback and what people like and don’t.
  • Too Anonymous: All the comments have avatars, not photos, meaning they are passive users of the site. TJT posters can remain anonymous, but like a Techcrunch blog, I’ll encourage Facebook login for commenting.
  • Too formal: The site is designed to get authors and aspiring professionals exposure, that’s not TJT’s intent.

Tags: , , ,


James Taylor started his first blog,, because was already gone. "So be it, let's keep it local," he said. Now he is the operator of 3 blogs all related: ( (personal ramblings), (parenting), (forum for people to tell stories about, "what strangers always ask them.") He dayllights in Business Development and Marketing for a Seattle healthcare startup and moonlights in a never ending pursuit of a graduate degree at the University of Washington (expected Fall 2012).

2 responses to “Initial Design Scope and Competitive Analysis of (TJT)”

  1. Kathy E. Gill says :

    JT – good start – clear ideas about what’s going to make this work. Caveat -> search won’t be helpful until there is enough content – same problem with word/tag clouds. Developing the personas for those audience segments could be interesting. 🙂

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