I really want to know: does Seun have another venture he’s running? Is he working in another company as an employee? Really want to know.
You see, Nairaland is now a national or even international brand. It’s become a Wikipedia of some sort for Nigerians. In my opinion, Nairaland has grown beyond Seun. It’s now a brand identified with my tens of millions of Nigerians home and abroad. So if Seun won’t stop his complacency, “anyhowness”, “I-don’t-care-what-you-say” attitude, “it’s-my-business-please-face-yours” dispostion, then he should save us the embarrassment of using that relic by selling the site and handing it over to “real” entrepreneurs. I’m sure he’ll make enough from the sale and take that retirement he’s always been praying for.
By now, Nairaland should be employing at least 100 persons if it was run by an entrepreneur. Does anyone here knows how many people Seun employees? Maybe, it could have received local and foreign investment thereby increasing our GDP. Maybe, it could have been receiving billions of Naira of foreign exchange from foreign companies struggling to list their adverts on the site thereby increasing our GDP. Maybe, it could have been evolved into a true social networking site for Nigerians and Africans.
Nigerians expects so much from Nairaland; Seun should realise the responsibility saddled on him and wake up from his slumber!
Some folks are just averse to change. Seun could also be very fond of the mantra: “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it”. I’m starting to feel like this is a recurring theme in the Nigerian mentality. People find a path to success, and then rest on their laurels instead of continuously innovating and pushing the boundaries of what they can achieve.
I have to admit I’m actually surprised that in this digital age where new technology comes out every 6 months, a site like nairaland still proves to be popular. I think it shows that neither the community nor the host is willing to move forward.
This request for “upgrade” on Nairaland seems to occur every 6 months or so. I’m a HUGE fan of “if it ain’t broken, don’t fix it”: I’ve worked in high tech for nearly 20 years and I can’t stand it when my old device is suddenly rendered useless just because there’s a need to “upgrade”. I still use a Palm Vx for organizing because frankly, all the sizzle and pop of iPhone and Android just don’t cut it. Here are my own opinions for why it should remain as is:
1). Nairaland has 1,386,486 users, and over 2million topics. Do you know how much extra processing power and bandwidth it would take to run any fancy pants javscript/css/jnode? Are you going to compensate him when he has to pay his network and processing provider? Are you going to lend him some bandwidth when it takes 2.5MB to deliver 40kB worth of information? Are you going to help him migrate, and be there when the migration fails, or when he discovers that the latest jnode doesn’t play nice with the latest python on the latest Linux distro? Are you going to code up and maintain the mobile version since a ton of users don’t have the latest and greatest smartphones with unlimited dataplans?
2). The ad campaign is highly flexible: starts at 20k, all the way to 100m. As is, 20,000 is small change for any serious business. I advertise on Nairaland, and I’m glad the bar is a little high: keeps off the tiny operators who would clog the place with their 100 naira ad campaign. Nothing better than dealing with 100 big clients (and some of the clients are spending big money, from my estimates of the campaign), than to deal with 1000.
3). He probably pays next to nothing to get his money today. Any other online payment method would demand their own fee. Are you planning on making up the fee? And unless I’m mistaken, they typically have the right to withhold your money, for whatever reason.
It don’t think it’s sad to serve the needs of the community in a way they think best? If it really came down to it, most of us prefer a fast, responsive, light website that gave us what we need, no fluff, without having to get the latest browser or computer hardware to access. There’s tons of great information and utility on sites like Nairaland, Craigslist, Wikipedia, Google, and I’m glad for that because I can find what I need, quickly, without waiting for the css to finish animating.
If there was an example of a Nigerian startup to emulate, Nairaland would be it:
1). serve a need
2). do it well, with as little overhead (people, computing power, bandwidth, cost)
3). grow organically
4). ignore “experts”
@nextstep I’m sure people were happy when the Benz Velo and Ford Model T came out in the last century. Did that stop their creators from pioneering? Nope. The same can be said for pretty much any industry.
In fact the reason this thread exists in the first place is because @leslie is complaining that the online payment system for nairaland pretty much sucks. He is a legit (paying!) user and his experience is not great, so Seun has definitely not “done it well”. Leslie has to go through a bunch of hoops just to get the payment in. That is exactly what Overhead is.
You can innovate while keeping the User Interface simple. Google does it, Dropbox does it. You just have to be creative and be wiling to experiment and iterate.
Adding a simple online payment system to better serve your paying customers is not too much to ask. You really don’t need an expert to tell you that.
So while I agree with you on those 4 points to emulate as a startup, I would disagree that Nairaland is following your advice.
@Bisong I do agree that innovating in ways to serve your customers better is always welcome, but we in the tech world tend to innovate for innovation’s sake without really considering the needs of the users. To wit, the oft cited frustrations with car interfaces, computers, phones, websites. The American car industry almost innovated their way into oblivion by the 70s with their huge fins and large chrome, without paying attention that consumers wanted efficient cars.
Arguably, the Nairaland interface is very simple. Just not dressed up. I’m suggesting that the dressing up wastes processing power and bandwidth, and is not needed to serve the existing needs of the community, most of whom access from their phones.
Additionally, I’d also argue that the Nairaland payment interface is very simple:
transfer money from your bank, which can be done online.
notify them with some evidence via email
Granted it doesn’t scale, since a human has to verify it; but then again, a human still has to check out your ad and make sure it doesn’t violate the site’s policy. It could be made more convenient to use, say, paypal, but have we all considered if indeed, the benefits of an online payment system outweigh the costs of using it, from a bottom-line point of view?
As for Google, the thing that still brings them by far the most bucks and profit, is that very old-tech website with a logo, a search box, and two buttons.
Just because it can be, doesn’t mean it should be, and I think we can all take lessons from Nairaland on how “innovating every 6 months” doesn’t necessarily make it good.
You’re right. There is such a thing as over-engineering. Referring back to the car analogy, let me ask you a question: If the industry did not almost innovate their way into oblivion, would they have known to course-correct and figure out ways to start designing more efficient cars? Now we have cars that run entirely on electricity…we even have cars that drive themselves!
I’m not a web developer (not a good one anyways), but I bet there are people here that could tell you that Nairaland could be engineered to be aesthetically cleaner while keeping the same bandwidth consumption. Even if no method existed to do that yet, it would be up to Seun to not sleep until he created one, and then license the tech out to others. More business for him.
There was another thread here that estimated Seun to be worth millions. Surely he can afford to hire a programmer for a couple of days to integrate Paypal.
My point is simply this: When you build something, it is your responsibility to make it the very best it can be, and then some. You will meet mistakes and head in the wrong direction and do some things wrong, but failure in my opinion is simply doing nothing. Any visionary will tell you that.
Whilst i respect your ideology, i largely disagree with you
This is why IT IS A BUSINESS, not a charity venture. Businesses must have satisfied customers otherwise they wouldn’t return. If i am not satisfied with the quality of service i get, do i not have the right to demand for more, considering that it’s a service i have to pay for. He makes real money from this venture which he uses to take care of server overhead and other costs. All the other technical details are things he could have worked out in development and quite frankly, there are WAAAAAAAYYYYYY TOOOO MAAAAANNNNYYYY stacks that can deliver the kind of optimal performance that Nairaland and Nairalanders deserve.
I also disagree with you on this front. Whoever (regardless their budget) wants to advertise(be it an event/service/product/announcement) should be given that opportunity without discrimination or bias. Using a jacked up pricing system as a detriment for “unserious” businesses is simply lazy logic and not just enough. Reddit, Facebook, Twitter, Youtube, LinkedIn all have flexible, scaleable advertising plans that basically deliver eyeballs according to your budget. It wouldn’t hurt to have that on Nairaland as well. Also, the idea of serving 100 big clients while ignoring 1000 small clients is ???.. Small businesses also make a sizeable chunk of your market that mustn’t be ignored.
At the end of the day, we’re not asking for a 6 month innovation product cycle. We’re asking for a product/service that works, that gives us what we want to move ahead. Yes, no fancy design but also, YES, orderly smooth, intuitive design also works. Good design makes a great product which creates smart(er) users.
With all due respect, I must say that it’s so wrong to compare Google and her seemingly “simple” interface to the rudimentary interface and functions of Nairaland. Google’s simple homepage is just a gateway to a behemoth of algorithms running on the World’s Largest and Most Powerful Supercomputers. Google Search is the world’s most advanced search engine whose algorithms are constantly being upgraded by the world’s most brilliant computer scientists. Nairaland has not released any new feature on that site in the last 5 years, whereas Google Search is constantly being upgraded and optimised to increase ad conversion rates. During the last upgrade, Google made it more difficult to differentiate between sponsored results and organic results. Before that, Google introduced Google Images which allows you to search with images.
Don’t forget that Google Search is just one medium for Google’s ads. Most of Google’s revenue come from ads distributed across all the millions of websites and video display networks. Google Search couldn’t give Google the desired scale hence their acquisition of Youtube, Adsense, Doubleclick and other tech companies whose platforms have contributed immensely to the success of Google. How can Google be compared with Nairaland??
We never charge for bandwidth
CloudFlare will never bill you for bandwidth usage. We believe if
your site suddenly gets popular or suffers an attack, you shouldn’t have
to dread your bandwidth bill.
So kindly note that Nairaland isn’t paying a dime when it comes to bandwith. As for processing power, Cloud Hosts are known to have enough in their arsenal to hosting tens of thousands of eBay-esque sites.
[quote=“nextstep, post:17, topic:1231”]
Are you going to code up and maintain the mobile version since a ton of users don’t have the latest and greatest smartphones with unlimited dataplans?
[/quote] Seriously, what does it take to code a mobile app? Most apps are simply a responsive mobile view of the main website embedded inside a container. The same amount of data used to access Nairaland directly on the site will be used to access the app. Nairaland’s revenue stream will be used to finance maintenance of the app just as every other tech business does.
I think you are unrealistic to think that because you have an apathy for using new technologies, so “a ton of users don’t have the latest and greatest smartphones.” Who do you think are buying all the latest and powerful smartphones released by Tecno, Huawei, SOLO, G’FIVE, and tens of others fighting for the huge Nigerian pie? Nigerians are early adopters of mobile technology and I can tell you that Nigerians are one of the biggest spenders on phones in the world.
This is a typical elitist and Nigerian mindset to deprive other people of the same opportunity just because you can afford to pay more. For your information, when I wanted to test Facebook Ads for the first time, I set my budget at just $10 (about N1,700 then). I was able to do that because Facebook Ads Platform uses an auction system which is the standard across the world. I was given the opportunity to test and see how effective the platform was before deciding to invest more money. Most small businesses cannot afford N20,000 for ads, so Nairaland should provide a flexible way of serving ads so that users can choose and fine-tune their target audience and budget while the platform serves the ad based on the specs and budget of the customer.
[quote=“nextstep, post:17, topic:1231”]
Any other online payment method would demand their own fee. Are you planning on making up the fee?
[/quote]Businesses grow and strive when you allow others to provide services that you can’t provide yourself or will spend more if you tried to provide the services yourself. If everyone had the same mindset, then we won’t have online payment solutions and we will all be queuing for hours just to pay N1,000 into someone’s account.
The American car industry didn’t have a moment of somber reflection, they were almost obliterated by Japanese car makers. Electric innovation for American car industry has come from outside: Toyota (foreign), and Tesla (upstart, and newcomer).
Maybe, but it has hardly been the case that new technologies have reduced bandwidth. Show me a single version 2.0 that was smaller and more agile than a 1.0. I’ll wait.
This might be true, but have you done a full cost analysis vs benefits?
And the argument we’re having is what “the best it can be is”. Does it have to have the latest tech to be the best?
Simpler. Easier to deal with. More profitable as the payment fees would be a smaller percentage. Every business decides where it wants to fit in, and some chase only large accounts (try getting any attention from IBM, SAP or Oracle for 20k). Others survive on very thin margins (all that work for 0.5% - 2% for the Chinese manufacturer that made your usb cable). Where is it said that a business must cater to all accounts? Even Apple doesn’t make $100 laptops. You choose where you want to be, and align your business to fit.
I don’t think it’s wrong: we’re both comparing the outward, customer facing interface and procedures, not the heavy lifting behind the scenes. The fact that Google changes algorithms doesn’t change the fact that the main front end is mostly 4 visible html elements. I fully agree that you need to improve when needed, but perhaps like Craigslist (a really successful business with a decidedly 90’s interface), Nairaland has no such need.
You’re right about us being the biggest spenders on phones, and there’s growing penetration of smart phones. There’s also the undeniable fact that Facebook and Twitter, among others, have deployed SMS-only (or other simplified) strategies. The biggest complaint I hear from Nigerians today is that bandwidth is too expensive, which implies they would appreciate a lean site. Bandwidth is becoming cheaper every quarter, so I suppose my argument will not hold in about 5 years.
That I didn’t know.
Yet, companies pay software developers time and again to build and maintain. Is this cost needed for your business. Maybe not in this case.
I suppose it came off as elitist, and I apologize. That was not the intent. I was looking at it more from the point of view of a business owner dealing with a small number of clients, than having to hire/outsource in order to keep track of a larger pool of clients.
You’re absolutely right. Do you know what HIS business goals are?
None taken. I really appreciate everyone’s opinions. The nice thing about business is if you scratch an itch that really needs scratching, then you’d be rewarded. In other words, anybody is free to create a Nairaland v2 (as has been attempted several times in the past).
All, thanks for the debate. I’ve learned a lot from it and appreciate the different view points. He’s found something that works for him, and for all we now might even be thinking of how to “change/improve it”. However, these statements about how it can be better remind me of the story of the Mexican fisherman. Please read it reflectively, especially as it concerns your lifestyle and business choices. I guess my intention was to provide a counter-balance to the churn of technology and the relentless march of progress: if doing all this extra detracts from your own personal life and time, why do it, even if it would mean more business/profit?
This isn’t really about whether it was Americans or Japanese that started automobile innovation, or about what technology works and what doesn’t. You say, and rightly so, that the argument is about what “the best it can be is”. How can you know what the “best can be is” if you haven’t pushed to make your product better? You simply cannot. Even Seun does not know if Nairaland is the best it can be because he isn’t willing to try and experiment to see what catches on and what doesn’t.
We would be having a different conversation if he actually upgraded the site and his community diminished, forcing him to switch back to the old version. But the fact is neither you nor I nor Seun knows what the best his site can be. And we will never know unless he makes a move.
You can see it’s a mental state of mind. When you have that burning desire and dedication to your vision, there isn’t a single mountain you will not be willing to climb to achieve it.
There’s nothing I want to say here that has not been said. I just want Seun to do just one thing and one thing alone: Make his ads open on new tabs!!!
If you check analytics for clicks for your nairaland ads, bounce rate is between 70 - 80% no matter the level of targeting, copy writing, banner creative or landing page you create. Took time with the team to look at what’s really happening. Guess what we found?
Clicks on nairaland ads open your landing page on same windows, same tab. Meaning visitors who click your ads must completely leave nairaland for your landing page and forgo whatever they were doing or reading on Nairaland before clicking that interesting ad of yours. This is why visitors from Nairaland leave almost immediately they hit your site. The back button is not that tough to find aand click.
People who have Seun’s contact should just talk to him fix this. Ads should open new tabs. People should not leave his site for ads. It hurts him, it hurts the advertisers paying for his business to remain afloat. He needs no codcoding, server space or porting or any technology changes to do this.
His other problems people can still live with ie… UI/UX issues, paying into his personal account, having to queue to advertise on certain pages cos there is not space… THERE’S NOT SPACE!!! WHEN YOU CAN JUST MAKE ADS ROTATE. Just talk to him. People complain not because they don’t like him. They do because they want changes. Finally if you can build it better. Please do. Someone needs to teach Nairaland how to do it. I will invest if you can, no matter how small. There was Yahoo before Google.