Mightybelllaunched in 2011 with the ambitious aim of creating user-generated pages full of useful content that could be shared by individuals, and grow with user participation. Mightybell at the time also touted ideas like guides creators could sell, item lists that would be monetized, analytics and more. However, nearly a year after launch some of those features and notions have been quietly diminished. Why? Read on.
I spoke to founder (former CEO and co-founder of Ning) Gina Bianchini about Mightybell’s current direction. What’s intriguing is that the site, unknown to a lot of people, has been growing users at a rate of 30% per week. While Bianchini wouldn’t say how many users were signed up, it’s clear the service has momentum. When I signed up using Facebook, one of my friends used the service but over 1,500 were also apparently using the app. With only 266 likes on their page, I’m guessing Mightybell has thus far accumulated a small but highly devoted audience. So how has the service evolved with users?
According to Bianchini, there has been more interest in private spaces. It makes sense, really. Let’s say you’re an educator and you want to make a vibrant, useful syllabus to accompany the staid, boring one you’re required to give. You wouldn’t open this to the general public, so Mightybell is an excellent solution. It’s easier to set up than a web page, but doesn’t throw a ton of features you’ll never use at you, either. Like Basecamp, it’s great for groups who wish to collaborate in a smart way.
In fact, educators and students are major users of Mightybell, said Bianchini. There’s also a fair number of advocates for causes and brands, all of which make perfect sense for the service. With easy tools to add content like this handy bookmarklet, Mightybell is aiming for an audience that might use a blog, but wants more engagement.
Since launch, Mightybell has streamlined its offerings, and has been focusing on their core experience, which is aptly described as Basecamp for “regular people.” Basecamp is great for business projects. But what about “personal” projects like going on a cool vacation or building a go-cart? That’s where Mightybell shines, giving creators a space to build a guide, and allowing (if they wish) creators to share them with the world and elicit feedback.
About the service:
Mightybell’s metaphor uses “spaces” which you create to collaborate or otherwise engage users. You can make these public or private, set a few design preferences like basic color scheme and fonts, and set a topic or purpose for each space. You have an option to sign in with Facebook using Mightybell, although I’m not sure that’s a great idea in certain situations. Luckily there’s a way to create a Mightybell account.
I happened to set up a private space and could have imported my Gmail or Yahoo contacts. You can also invite via Facebook, or find others with Mightybell accounts. Unfortunately I ran into a small error, as sending an invite via Facebook resulted in an error, but the inteface said it was sent anyway. Email invites seemed to work just fine.
Once you’ve invited someone, you’re prompted to start adding content. As items are added, you’ll see a small timeline indicating when they were added. In a way, there’s a fancy, very design-centric wiki at work here. I like the boxes which are created on your page, and you can drag and drop content onto each other to create folders, very handy if you have a ton of items. Still, the interface at times suffers from an abundance of dialog boxes, which can clutter things. But little touches like a hover telling you who created what is an interesting twist on the wiki concept — it’s clear Mightybell was created to promote community, not just projects or ideas or even guides.
After that it’s pretty much like any CMS, as you find things you add them. You can structure your content to an extent, plus do a few nice things like add event invites via URLs.
Let’s face it, reading a guide requires you to trust the person who wrote the guide. It’s the same with education and any content. I wouldn’t “follow” or engage with someone who isn’t going to share knowledge of some kind, so Mightybell seems to be quietly promoting the community aspects while giving content creators a simple set of tools to promote their wares.
If you are building something useful, or want to lock down your conversations around a particular subject, project or event, Mightybell is a great solution. I have to say Mightybell has some powerful tools coming down the road for creators and enthusiasts. Given Bianchini’s previous expertise (Ning now boasts over 74M users), and the product so far, I have a feeling Mightybell is going to grow much faster in the coming months. That’s all the better, since it thrives on content and engagement, both of which Bianchini sounded confident would continue to grow as features are added.