Thursday, March 27, 2008

What About “Maybe”?

Since we launched Coordinatr, one of the biggest areas of feedback that we’ve received has pertained to event responses, or more specifically the lack of the “maybe” option. Some people really like the missing option, forcing users to make a decision and choose whether they will be attending. Others don’t…at all. They’ve become so used to sites like Evite allowing people to respond as “maybe” that they feel entitled to it now.

We spent a good bit of time debating this point, whether the best way was to cater to the norm and provide the “maybe” option, or to buck it and go against the grain. Normally, one would think that’s an obvious choice. Why would you want to do something different when you’re trying to get off the ground? Do what people are used to and you’ll have a much higher acceptance rate. That’s a logical argument, right?

In the end, it came down to the fact that we built Coordinatr as a solution to a problem we were having: coordinating people for events. One of the most frustrating things that we experienced when creating events with other services was for a majority of the attendees to respond as “maybe”. This was especially true for events where reservations at an establishment were necessary and “maybe” threw the count off drastically. Thus, it was finally decided that we would like the site more, and hopefully our users would too, if we eliminated the “maybe” option from the event responses.

Overall, even though we’ve gotten some complaints, people have taken to the system. Users have begun selecting the “yup” or “nope” options, and then clarifying if they might be able to attend or miss using the message board functionality, which is precisely how we envisioned the system being used. This allows the event creator the ability to more accurately determine who is going to show up, and lets the users explain their situation before the event begins.

If you want to read a great blog post promoting the elimination of the “maybe” option, check out: “Maybe” is one option too many by Jeffrey Zeldman.


Andrew Gibiansky said...

Interesting post. I agree with you, but --

Why not let the creator of the event decide whether or not to allow a 'maybe' option?

That way, for events where strict counts are necessary, the user will be able to disable 'maybe', and otherwise, leave it enabled. (Or make it disabled by default.)

Anyway, my 2 cents. Don't be offended if I'm barking up the wrong tree, since I haven't actually USED

Jeff said...

Hey Andrew,

Great that I should have addressed in the post.

Our goal all along has been to make the site as intuitive and easy to use as possible so that users can create events without being slowed down by a multitude of features. We agree that there are a lot of little features that people would like, but if we added all of them, the usability of the interface would definitely diminish...something we've been working hard against.

In that regard, we've taken a page from 37signals' book "Getting Real":

"The best software has a vision. The best software takes sides. When someone uses software, they're not just looking for features, they're looking for an approach. They're looking for a vision. Decide what your vision is and run with it."

Hope that kind of explains where we're coming from and why we haven't given creator's the choice of response types.

Oh, and try out the site when you get a chance...we'd love to hear your feedback!