It’s striking how fast one has come to experience search, distribution and measurability of ones content across different social platforms as a commodity, no matter how great or disruptive the service itself might be. Since all objects are social, we also have a need to share and know what’s going on with our content to better interact around it.
Good example of a great and disruptive service is Prezi, an online visualization and storytelling tool that aims to change the way people present information and tell their stories. To me Prezi was love at first beta invite, resulting it to become one of the very few software products that I’m actually, and happily, paying for. And I’m not the only one who’s been dazzled by how it inspires and challenges, both its user and audience, at the same time. In just within a year Prezi has become the darling of the innovative minds in tech, design and educational institutions. It’s often seen on stage in places like Davos, TED conferences, who also has invested in Prezi, and LeWeb. Robert Scoble is in love with it, and it’s certainly not every day Umair Haque describes a product as “total awesomeness”.
Thus, it’s no surprise that education, social media and technology are the most common words used in the public prezis.
The Hungarian startup with its Swedish CEO Peter Arvai and Jack Dorsey, Co-founder of Twitter and CEO of Square, on the advisory board, seems to have chosen the right path by being obsessive about the product development to create great user experience and an awesome product. As Jason Calacanis keeps reminding the startups on TWiST: “Create great user experience and an awesome product, and the business will follow.” Having both dedicated fans and paying customers with a great product is a good space for Prezi to be in, but to stay competitive I think it’s important they gear up its social sharing and discovery of content a notch.
If that’s not enough for being social as a service, what am I still missing?
User profile and improved search: To be able to share and socialize around content it needs to be found. There’s no public user profile page, and since the search function only includes the titles of the content, it’s nearly impossible to search and find single users. (I’ve tested to add my name in the description field without any luck). For example: A search for Sean Percival results to a copy of his presentation saved by someone else only because his name is found in the title. On the positive note, Prezi has become more search engine optimized after changing its URL structure to more readable ones.
Tags and categories: Adding possibility to tag and categorize content will also facilitate and improve the search and user experience.
Statistics: A standard and important feature in so many levels, both to the user and the service itself. Prezi does have a page for popular prezis, which I believe would better serve its purpose if including metrics about number of viewings and sharings.
Notifications: Since it’s possible to “pad”, i.e. like, a presentation, as well as to comment on it, it’s necessary to receive a notification of some sort to be able to act upon it. This would also help to increase the conversation and engagement level of the Prezi community.
Slideshare: All the functionality mentioned is found on the largest document sharing service Slideshare, yet a closed door for prezis. As Slideshare doesn’t support Prezi’s file format and Prezi doesn’t offer any conversion functionality, this has become a slight inconvenience to, and a request from, its users, who now have to use manual workarounds.
Whereas Prezi’s claimed to be the Powerpoint killer, it’s actually pretty funny to find over 200 Powerpoint or Keynote presentations on Slideshare about Prezi, or actual prezis converted to ones. Think if they were all prezis.
Prezi recently released an improved editor, to my liking, and is now also offering reuse of all the public prezis. There’s a free public license option so you can easily let yourself get inspired by the works of both Joi Ito, CEO of Creative Commons, and Sean Percival of MySpace, to get started with your own storytelling.
To quote Joi Ito: “All of our talks are inspired by others and using and reusing material should significantly improve the quality of all of our talk.”