Friday Roundup #1

Happy Friday, Judy’s Book people!

My name is Jon, I’m one of the developers for Judy’s Book and this is the first in a series of weekly posts I’ll be writing to keep everyone up to date on what we’re doing, and what it may mean to you. I encourage readers to let us know what you think by commenting!

Any of you that visit the site regularly have seen it undergo a major facelift and modernization over the last couple weeks. We hope that the changes make the site easier and more fun to use. We’re continuing to refine and polish the new look, and welcome any feedback anyone has. With the redesign mostly complete, we’re moving on to some very significant changes. I can best introduce these through a personal experience.

The other day, someone I know was traveling to a city I used to live in. He asked for restaurant recommendations, and I sent him several long messages detailing ones I liked. Thinking back on this, two things struck me: why hadn’t he just gone to an online review site, and why was I so willing to write lengthy messages to him about places I’d never bothered to review for the general public? I think the answer to both these questions is one of the biggest issues facing review sites today: information relevance.

Sure, the advice seeker could have gone to a review site and picked whatever the highest-rated restaurant was in the city. What if the bulk of the reviews were from people with very different ages, or tastes, or backgrounds? What if the people most like him had panned the restaurant? It would take hours to confirm this sort of information on review sites nowadays. Instead, he can ask someone he’s familiar with for advice and rest assured that the recommendations will be relevant to his interests.

As someone providing advice, I like to know that my advice is helping. I don’t want to bother spending my time reviewing a place that already has dozens or hundreds of reviews across the web, since my opinion will inevitably be lost in the noise. I also worry that rating a business based on a highly specific positive or negative, such as being very kid friendly or unavailable on short notice, will misinform the majority of users and potentially do a great disservice to the merchant. When I provide my opinions to someone who asks me for them, I can be certain they will be heard and helpful.

The above issues are what we decided to tackle in our upcoming revisions. You may have already noticed that we have added the ability to tag yourself as a mom, dad or homeowner on the site. These tags are the foundation of a simple, elegant new system Judy’s Book will be employing to deliver confidently relevant search results, and to make sure the reviews you write get to the correct audience. It will also be of great use for businesses, who will be able to look at their Judy’s Book profile and see exactly how different demographics feel about them.

We hope you join us in creating the Web’s first source of personally tailored business information!

/Jon

Be sure to check in each Friday for more posts about the state of Social Search® on the web, ways that it can empower customers and businesses, and previews of upcoming enhancements to Judy’s Book.

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