A product is born: Voki lives!

Finally, I'm a product manager with a product. 

Voki
is now public...brought to a level by which it can only improve through actual usage by real consumers.

What's personally interesting for me is that I thought that this would be the kind of milemarker that I would sit back on and take a breadth...carefully watch what people do with it, put the specs aside and listen to the market, talk it up.

Well, yes, I need to do all of those things, but there's no breather here.  Launching a product is not the end of a phase, it's really just the beginning.  All of those endless debates about what's more intuitive, what should a screen be called, where should a button be placed... now they become issues for potentially thousands of people in a very real way. 

Thought you were knee deep in it now?  Try being a sewer worker during the Superbowl when everyone flushes at the same time.  Such is the responsibility that comes with being a product guy. 

Still, though, it's important to recognize the hard work that got Voki to this point.  It would not have been possible without a lot of hours from Oddcast's creative and technical staffs, none of whom were completely relieved from various day to day fires that need to be put out related to other products throughout the company.  Still, they found time to make a new product happen.

Over the next few days, I'll be detailing some of the thoughts and decisions and "todo's" related to the product and I'm excited to be able to give an insider's perspective into the process of product management.   It will be fun to talk about a product that is out there and one that hopefully iterates and innovates over time.   If we're doing out job right, it will be obvious that we're listening to our community and working hard to make Voki more useful, easier, and yes, more fun. 

But right now I need a favor...  from every last one of you.

I'd really like you all to be a part of this...  check that...  I really need you all to be a part of this.  If you've been reading this blog for a while, or if you just recently joined, and you've ever got any value out of it, I'm glad.  I've never really asked for anything in return, but today I will.

You see, I really believe that the best products are made better by passionate users, and so, right now, that's what I need...users.   But don't use come in, poke it once, and leave.  Really use it and tell me what you think.

Here's what I'm looking for:

  1. Register for an account.
  2. Go to My Voki.
  3. Click "Create a new Voki" and, well, create a new Voki.
  4. Send it to a handful of people by clicking "Voki for others" and select that scene that you just created (or a completely new one).  Send it to me, too, if you want.  And don't just send a boring "Hey, check this out e-mail."   Send something cool.  Something funny.  Be creative, angry, sexy, moronic, obnoxious, sweet, sincere, alluring...  whatever you want.  Talk about what you're really passionate about.  Tell others about the war, or net neutrality, or about Paris Hilton's arrest.  If it's really good, we'll post it as a "Featured User".
  5. If you have a blog or a MySpace profile or anywhere else you keep widgets, post it, even if only for a few days to see what people think... and to see what you think of being able to change your Voki's look and message on the fly.

Asking a lot?  Maybe...   but you have to understand, Voki is something I really want to be fantastic.  I don't want a lot of users because I want to go sit on a panel somewhere... I want a lot of users because I want to be able to say that I helped build something that people use... that when it's my birthday, I get to hear the voices of my readers because they're sending me Voki.... when I happen upon your blog, you're telling me what you're up to for the day, or just greeting me.

But I can't do that unless it's good, and I can't do that without the feedback of users.  So, try it out, stick with it for a little bit, and tell me what you think.   E-mail me at charlie@oddcast.com.  Don't pull punches either.  Tell me exactly what you think and I'll be posting the feedback right here and what we're doing about it.  It will be an interesting exercise in transparency and honesty.

So thanks for helping me out... thanks for reading... and seriously, sincerely, I look forward to hearing your voice soon, on a Voki.   Because, and I've said this before, it's not really about the avatar or virtual worlds, or being like Second Life or anything like that... It's a voice app, and voice is emotional.  I think of Voki as a creative skin for your voice and I believe in voice on the web.  We spend a lot of time by ourselves in silence on the web... often times glossing over the idea that there's a real person on the other side of the IP address.  Voice is a reminder, to me, of the human side of the web... and even with a little animated fish in front of it that lipsyncs for you, it can be a very powerful thing.

And while you're at it, RSS people, click through to my blog to see the first public Voki in my sidebar.  Go ahead and comment on it!  (It will take a second or two to appear... )  Play ball!