I'd love any feedback, suggestions etc.
1. Have generic options for clothing, since there is a huge turnover in baby clothes at most retailers (BRU doesn't even offer pictures for most clothes on the website) - size and item type (3 month onesie, newborn footy pjs, etc.)
2. Offer some suggested items / basic lists to get people started, or consider more social aspects to let people give feedback on other people's lists - there seems to be a big market for this kind of info (see: baby bargain books). This might be a way to keep users engaged after they are done with their own list.
3. Have options for non-purchased gifts or other items to be added, like home-cooked meals or babysitting - lots of people wanted to offer these kinds of things
4. Have options for monetary donations - this is how a lot of cultures work (red envelopes for chinese, etc.) and it would be great to support it in one place
5. Provide links to sign up for store registries to get all the freebies they provide for signing up - lots of people love this kind of thing. This is also a competitive point to consider - the discount stores provide to "complete" your registry was a good way to get a discount on the high-ticket items.
6. Consider ways to offer future gifts - diaper subscriptions or clothes for older babies that could arrive in the future so you don't have to worry about storing it and remembering it 6 months later.
Also, I can appreciate what you've done and why: I'm an allround developer, so when my wife and I were looking for a name for my oldest child, I quickly decided to build a name site myself. It's online in two languages: in Dutch as http://www.zeevannamen.nl and in English as http://www.valleyofnames.com.
I'd be happy to have a banner pointing to you site, if you wish? Maybe we can cooperate in other ways as well. Let me know if you have any thoughts on that.
Are you a member, or did you browse the work posted and contact someone directly? Would love to hear more about that process.
I had the idea for the site and posted it (http://forrst.com/posts/Any_designers_interested_on_collabor... but I don't think this link will work if you're not logged in)
This is what I wrote:
I'm a ruby on rails developer and I'm 5 months pregnant.
Today I created a baby registry and it was a nightmare. I ended up using the amazon.com universal wishlist. It's a bookmarklet that lets you add any product on the web to an amazon wishlist. Unlike a registry, your friends and family "reserve" an item instead of actually buying it from the specific store that has the registry.
My idea is to create a new website "baby registry anywhere" (terrible name) where you can add and reserve items similar to the universal wishlist. I think it would also be cool to be able to add more than one link for an item, so your friends/family could choose where to purchase it.
I could probably code a minimal, launchable version in a week (or 5 Fridays). In the past I've hired designers for projects but I'd love to work with someone as partners on this.
I had a kind of overwhelming response and clicked with one designer via text chat and we went forward. In retrospect, I've spent way more than 5 days on this.
-from Gödel, Escher, Bach
I'm still in awe at how well this turned out. Huge kudos to you both. And, made me realize: Clearly we need to do a better job keeping tabs on awesome collabs like this. I'm certain there must be more.
Sorry, I am being curious because most of us hackers are in the same boat when it comes to design.
The project has moved slower than if I'd hired a designer (for example Lindsey is currently defending her thesis at school and is 100% focused on that). But I maybe always had the trump card by being like "We need to launch before I have a baby".
Overall I think I got lucky and I'm not sure what advice I'd give. Forrst is like HN for (hungry) designers though.
Congrats on the launch! The app looks awesome.
I was baffled at first, because I didn't understand what a 'baby registry' is (despite the fact that I have two kids). Had to google it :) and now I understand. We have similar tradition for weddings, but not for babies. I wish you all the best.
Quote: "Instead of building something complicated that was based on our free community (i.e. a freemium service), I decided to write two guides about something I know about, and something our users care about, learning Spanish slang."
Congratulations on seeing it through.
However, a month ago someone posted an almost identical concept to HN. I think it was for wedding registries though.
Overall, great concept, attractive website, and a real need.
My only criticism relates to it being fairly obvious. What hacker hasn't bought a wedding/baby gift and thought "Wouldn't it be cool if there was a registry for any store?" My point is, I'm sure this has been tried hundreds of times. So you have to ask yourself, "Why didn't those become mainstream, despite solving an obvious need?" and figure out how yours will execute differently. I really don't know the answer, but it has a lot to do with the ease of saying "I'm registered at Bed Bath & Beyond" (which everyone knows) over, "I'm registered with a new universal registry, which shows you what you can get at any online store, it's Babyli.st BABYLI.ST"
I'd really love to know your thoughts, because this same problem applies to a lot of different ideas where large brick & mortar stores still reign king, despite obvious inefficiencies.
I'm just starting to market this with people in the pregnancy/baby space, and so far they seem to think this is a totally original idea made just for them.
Sounds like there's an angle there for promotion - printable invitations, email invite list that tracks responses, free printed snail mail invites (team up with a print house that would take that opportunity) ...?
Unfortunately for you, babylist.com is taken -- but babylist.net is available. I know it can be hard to find an available domain in the .com realm that closely matches what you want, but I still think it is important. I think those business domains which have succeeded despite having a .(something-other-than-com) domain name have done so despite that disadvantage.
Also, natgordon - great site. If it was useful outside of the US I'd point several friends to it immediately.
I disagree about .net domains, especially for a market of mothers; traditionally, they aren't hackers like the creator here :)
It's not even the domain name quality that I'm questioning-it's the convenience of stopping by a brick & mortar store with an exact item to pick up. I know you're thinking "the internet much more convenient, but not if its a process you're not used to.
It's the same root cause as to why people send files back and forth via email - it's so engrained in people, that its the status quo.
So the real challenge here I think is breaking that social norm that retail giants have cemented in us.
So there are 2 groups of people.
1. registrants (people having babies) - branding here is important and the name could bite me. Let me know if you have any suggestions for other names.
2. people buying the registrant gifts - BabyList doesn't even have search which is a default wishlist/registry feature. I think giving someone a pretty url slug and letting them email it/share it/link to it, is not going to be a problem.
My advice would be to use the proper spelling ('Babylist') in general - especially in your html titles - and in no time you'll be #1 for the term, regardless of spelling:
People will go to babylist.com. They will probably copy the concept if it takes off.
It seems silly to try and compete with established players.
2. the owner of the domain is a single-location brick and mortar retailer, with no e-commerce. that would inform my thought process, were in in the OP's shoes
If it were a wedding registry, I would suggest maybe HitchedList? It would be better than WeddingList since it's less general. Obviously this doesn't help directly, but maybe will inspire some ideas!
I think the best startup names are those that relate to a market's pathos.
In fact, as an entrepreneur, you almost always want it to have been done before. It is much easier to say "Amazon wish lists specifically for expectant parents" than it is to try to define a totally new market.
Start-ups are created and thrive in those pockets of inefficiency that large corporations leave in their wake. The best entrepreneurs use that as leverage rather than shying away from it.
I was really going to implement this when I got married a few months ago but couldn't find an elegant way to confirm when a guest had purchased a gift. Sending an e-mail is OK but it's not 100% accurate. This can lead to duplicate gifts which are a big pain.
Ideally, I want to be able to contribute $20 towards that $80 carseat. If A, B & C also contribute, the item should be sent as coming from me, A, B & C. If only myself and A contribute, you should be given the opportunity to put in your $40 to complete the purchase.
Just my 2 cents.
[Edit: Basically I would like the lovechild of a wishlist with something like http://www.chipin.com/ - do that and you can really differentiate yourself]
We actually support that at Wishpot (so, we may be the lovechild you're looking for!). Any wish can be enabled for contributions, and then instead of purchasing it, the "buy it" button turns into a progress bar. The cash goes straight into your paypal account - we don't take a cut and aren't a middleman. There's a little how-to here: http://www.wishpot.com/help/how-to-contributions.aspx
Let me know what you think, would love your feedback - tom at wishpot.com
And second birthday ideas.
And third birthday ideas.
You get the idea.
"9 – BabyCalc.com – If you were about to have a baby you could go on this site and punch in some numbers then it would email you as your baby was growing and let you know what was going on… “like 10 days until you should be able to tell the sex of your baby!” or “Babys heart beat starts today” ect.. stuff like that.. I paid to have the backend developed and the site was about 95% completed (about a 1500$ investment).
Then a very close friend of the family had a miscarriage about 15 weeks into her pregnancy and told us about how she had signed up for all these baby websites and now they keep emailing her stuff and she breaks down and cries every time…. I just wanted no part of that…"
I used to work for one of these baby companies. It was an interesting challenge coding wise due to the large volume of data they dealt with.
When I first joined what they didn't tell me is that all e-mails about miscarriages and deceased babies would be forwarded to my work inbox. It was then my job to add the flag to the user's account on the database, that way the marketing e-mails and so on would stop. Users could do this themselves, but often they wouldn't find the menu option to do so as it's hidden away, and it's harder to find when you're stressed, so instead they e-mailed us. What shocked me was the sheer volume of e-mails like this I had to deal with from understandably distraught users.
What's worse is that sometimes you'd get an e-mail from a mother who has given birth to a still-born baby or had a baby with SIDS, asking for things like a specialist photographer, or other service who can provide the sensitivity and care they require.
When you here statistics like this it's one thing, but to get e-mails from people, knowing each one relates to a real deceased infant every day it slowly wears you down.
That's one job that haunts me when I least expect it. A lot more people have miscarriages than I first expected.
I understand how that can make one feel - but I dont think that focusing on miscarriage or SIDS is the right perspective.
That was my point. I have a 6-year old and a baby currently loading with delivery in July. I also have a very dear friend who lost her second child to SIDS.
We are getting the "Your baby is currently the size of an avocado" emails -- We like the service.
The fear of a customer of such service's potential pain, while real and however small, shouldn't deter the availability of the service.
I'd love to see the ability to organize by child, so my sister, for example, could put items into either child's registry.
Simple, awesome, easy to use, and real-life purpose.
Somebody already posted this on your suggestion forum, but I do like the idea of allowing people an option to offer item suggestions. Expand that idea by also allowing people to alternately "buy" something like a gift card (redeemable credit) for the moms; this would be helpful for the people out there who want to buy a gift, but who don't necessarily want to swoon over baby items. (e.g. Target gift card)
Congrats for the mom-to-be!
Perhaps also allow gifting 'cash' via paypal and run affiliate links for the paypal signup.
I think it's great. Color scheme and style are very appealing and appropriate. The one awkward point for me is the "plus any other online store" tag after the noteworthy logos. It seems a little too much like an add-on. Maybe something a little bigger (to draw attention to the fact that your service is universal), with text suggesting, "BabyList registry works with any online retailer!" and then have an "including:" or "featured" listing over your images?
Just my two cents.
I have a question about the logos, as this is a subject I myself always fear when creating a new side project:
Is it safe to have other companies' logos on ones site (as listed on yours), or is it possible to face infrightment allegations? Thinking about issuing a .us based project, I'm a bit afraid of somebody suing me for something like that.
Thanks, and congratulations!
The first thing I did was try it out at an off-brand online store. It worked great and I was "surprised and delighted" (to us a term that may be familiar to HNers).
When we had our first child, I couldn't find an online registry that I liked, so I scripted a rudimentary one up one night. It worked really well. My wife loved that she could register for intangibles like "Bring us dinner", or any gift from any store. When the baby was born, I took a lengthy paternity leave and, like you, thought I'd build a web app for others to use the registry. I actually took the idea to a local startup bootcamp and it was torn apart by the instructors/angels and left to die on the boardroom floor. Too hard to generate sufficient revenue. Here are a couple of tidbits from my experience for you:
1. One angel had invested in a universal registry and said it took them three years to find any revenue at all. What they did was pivot into a wedding registry that enabled guests to contribute to the couple's honeymoon fund. They made money on travel agent referrals to the couple.
2. This is a crowded market.
A lot of the comments in this thread (like mine!) note how great your site looks. When I showed my site to the bootcamp people, I emphasized my slick design. They essentially said, "No one gives a crap! What problem does it solve that isn't already solved by someone else!"
I thought, "But, but, but... everyone is like me right? Tech savvy and appreciative of good design and UX?"
Check out http://wishpot.com. They are a universal registry. All web 2.0 with social integration. They've got some funding (http://www.centernetworks.com/vc-funding-docstoc-wishpot-kaa...). Been around a few years now.
Here's a competitor: http://www.findgift.com/Services/Gift-Registry/. It was founded in 1997 by a couple from Georgia.
And another: http://myregistry.com. Second spot on Google for "gift registry".
Now check it out:
I was aware of a lot of that at the beginning and I have no regrets. I would use BabyList for my own registry and for various reasons wouldn't use the others. We'll see how it goes.
1. How to mark items as purchased. Relying on gift givers to "reserve" and "unreserve" items may be a step up from restaurant reservations but that's not saying much. I wouldn't be surprised if your honor system led to close to half of every registry ending up in a black hole of forgotten reservations.
2. How to keep up with out-of-stock items and price changes. Baby registries usually span months, so how do you deal with outdated information or dead links? From my own Amazon baby registry experience, about 30% of my wish list went MIA by the time of the actual baby shower, when most of my friends and family made their purchases.
3. How do you deal with bad UIs. Drawing again from my Amazon experience, a lot of older relatives almost bought the wrong item because of all the "you might also like" items all over the screen. I wouldn't be surprised if a large chunk of your purchases got diverted by bad 3rd party UIs.
4. Varied URL standards. For example, some shopping sites get product options from user session so non-logged in URLs link to an item's default color and size. So once you are off to a 3rd party website, there is no guarantee the gift giver would buy the correct item.
As far as I can see you've built a wish list that you are marketing as a registry and I am not sure if that's a good thing. The key feature of a registry is that a retailer makes sure that the correct items get purchased (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gift_registry) so I think there is a broken promise there.
1 - when you reserve you enter your name and email address. you then get an email (that i currently don't make you confirm, but could) that says "you have promised to purchase X"
2 - This is an issue with in-store registries as well. I am not currently solving this issue, but it is technically feasible to do so.
3 - I'm depending on the older relatives to give us cash for baby's college fund :) I'm definitely not trying to solve e-commerce for an older generation.
4 - That's a good point. Hopefully this is a small percentage or items/online stores.
Thanks for the feedback.
In terms of suggestions, I'd suggest you tweak your index page a bit. When I landed there, I was most interested in seeing what one of these registries looked like. I assumed that clicking the image of John and Jane's Baby List would show me an example, but it's not currently linked. To actually find an example, you have to think a bit and either find the text link under your Create button or realize that the Showcase link is what you're looking for.
Also, the Vendors page needs a bit of work. I'm sure that's number 7273 on your priority list, but I don't think it'll be very successful in engaging vendors as is.
I put up the vendors page after I saw a vendor create a list of their products with a description "create your baby registry on this site to register for our store". At least I can contact them once we have something engaging to tell them.
On a personal note, if this does start to have success, I hope you've got plans in place for someone else to carry the workload once your baby arrives. I'd be putting those plans in place now so someone else is largely running things as you enter the final weeks. It's a cliche to say 'your life will change' - but it will change so much it would be a shame to have a new project die because you can't devote time to it in the first couple of months of your other more important project.
If I look at the example registry and goto purchased items, there is 1 purchased at "etsy.com". If expand "View By Store" and uncheck "etsy", the item disappears as intended. However, if I uncheck "Amazon" and then recheck "Amazon", new items show up that weren't originally there. I'm assuming they're from the "All Items" list even though I'm still under "Purchased".
As others have said, I'm not in your target market, but I think the site is very well down.
The real question is why, how could this site execute differently?
I think the bookmarklet is a bit high threshold for some (if not most) users. Telling them to copy+paste a website URL and enter it into a field on their control panel is not.
For SEO your site could use a little work. Perhaps a blog about pregnancy could help get your domain ranking for some niche related terms. You are probably aiming for social sharing here, and organic search might be a lesser priority. Make sharing on Facebook and Twitter a lot easier (API helps) and visible (icons help). I might not sign up, but still like or recommend your app.
Also adding just that extra page to convince users to sign up, or a even demo video, can help with user engagement.
Finally I'd have a small look at making your site canonical, by rewrite or specifying canonical: http://googlewebmastercentral.blogspot.com/2009/02/specify-y... because /about and /about/ return the same content. And to quote W3C "Always declare the encoding of your document" (declare a meta charset like ISO or UTF-8 in your header http://code.google.com/p/doctype/wiki/ArticleUtf7).
If the system does not support it already, something worth considering is a function allowing the person making the list to upload a photo of themselves to be displayed on their wish list page.
This will re-assure the "buyers" they are on the correct page, not just some random list of products on the internet :)
I can see how it would be done with exact matches, but a lot of stores don't carry the exact same items, in order to remove price competition. The items may look and function the same, and be under the same brand, but they will be distinct models.
If I list a 4 slot, extra-wide, chrome toaster on a registry under one model number from Target, how could I know if I should buy a toaster matching that description at WalMart without scanning the list of purchased items? The model of one store offers the convenience of being absolutely sure there aren't any duplicate purchases since once an item is purchase, it is removed.
I just realized a toaster is a bad example for a baby registry, but you get my point.
I think the next step would be that when you add a product to the registry there's a checkbox like "let people buy this from other stores" which is default checked on amazon/babys-r-us and default unchecked on etsy.com. Then in the registry display you would see multiple offers for one product. Then there would still be the challenge you describe but it wouldn't be a UI problem, it would be a data challenge.
As mentioned a few times here, the bookmarklet is a big barrier to entry. I think a walkthrough video would help that substantially. I can't imagine a regular person understanding they can just browse around the web shopping and your site can pick it up. Browser plugins are also a big entry barrier to people who aren't very savvy.
I wonder if you linked out to sites like amazon in a frame where you persisted a top bar around those sites as the user browsed. Might be janky though. *edit: just noticed amazon throws a JS error when framed. damnit.
Another thought is perhaps you cobble some api+scraping stuff together and provide the user a simple search+add to registry function inside your site.
So is your business model based on affiliate programs for all those retailers? How are you tracking whether or not something was purchased?
Feature request :-
* Would love more info about the item in line.
* Who is buying what (if it is socially acceptable!) as I might team up with a friend but not with a stranger.
* Baby journals et. al.
Other helpful info for you:-
* Did you knew about http://www.thebump.com ?
* Thebump has reading info + baby name help + videos + registry.
A question to you:-
Now that you know about a site which has already solved same problem as you, would you still pursue this idea? If yes then what will be the thought process?
With every idea I start hacking with I tend to over research and find a solution and then steam goes off! I want other people's experience with this phenomenon who tend to overcome this.
Blogher would be a great source for you to find testers and get solid feedback from a group of mommies and mommies to be :). Also, one thing that I liked about Amazon and Babies R US however, is they had list recommendations. It may be a good idea for you to add some cool lists to you site such as "Top 10 Must Haves for Green Moms" or somethng like that. I was clueless when registering and appreciated the guidance of the lists.
I'll be sure to promote it here in Tokyo to the American moms! Good luck with your pregnancy!
I’m definitely not in the audience for this site, so maybe all parents-to-be learn what a baby registry is from their friends or something, but it would be nice if you explained to random internet surfers what the site is for. Just a sentence would suffice.
When women (or couples) are having a baby, they have a baby shower. This is a get together to celebrate and typically the party-goers bring a gift for the parents-to-be and their baby. Sometimes clothes or a stroller or diapers or other baby related items.
It is similar to when someone gets married and they create a wedding registry of household items they would like as gifts.
"We" would sound more professional.. Just to be clear, I'm not saying you should remove that friendly tone which I find great, especially for that kind of website. However, I'm not sure if it is worth it to put so much emphasis on you as you are not the goal of the website..
We were looking for "bleh". Thanks to xyz designer who join our team and help us create this [etc.].
My 5 cents, good luck :)
(I know it's kind of ironic that I suggest being more professional when I can hardly speak English correctly, but anyway..)
My experience was that it doesn't work out very well, but your thing is definitely more polished than mine, and maybe with the right promotion you can make it click. :)
If I put babyli.st on my shower invite, I imagine having some extremely confused Aunts and Grandmothers... but if I can say "Babyli.st, Target and Babies R Us" that would be more generation friendly. They can go to Target, and it updates on Babyli.st for my savvy friends.
And buy yourself some kid-o-potamus swaddles. We never would have picked that out but someone gave us one and that was a life saver the first 6 weeks or so. Never would have though being all straight jacketed was the preferred way for babies to sleep...
Get a toy doll and practice. Took me a couple hours to get the hang of it.
On the marketing front, one way to pitch it is that a decentralized registry makes life easier for your friends, too. I am so sick of having to pay top dollar for gifts just to get them off of a registry, when better deals can be had elsewhere for the same products. How many extra dollars have gone to Bed, Bath & Beyond instead of Amazon simply for that reason?
I love the idea of creating connections between vendors. Is there anything more community-oriented than a mailing list? A LinkedIn or Facebook group for example if most of the vendors hang out one place or another.
1) Try to collect data and offer up suggestions
2) Try to get a good Facebook presence. (etsy.com). Your target market lives on Facebook now.
3) Can you email your registry?
Gotta go. Good luck
If I'm buying a gift for a friend, do I need to know their mailing address in order to have it shipped to them? It would be amazing if this took care of that for me.
It just seems to be more difficult than necessary to verbally communicate how to reach the site.
How stable are the product links you use? Do you do any type of periodic validation?
If I click on a link to view a product, it might be nice to open that window inside a frame (or modern equivalent) with a babyli.st "reserve" button at the top.
Right now no.
>> If I click on a link to view a product, it might be nice to open that window inside a frame (or modern equivalent) with a babyli.st "reserve" button at the top.
As far as usability goes, the home page is very easy to understand, and you'll definitely get a high conversion rate because of this.
But it's inconsistent; I can edit other items.
You need to get those stores on board in some way as well... big risk if they decide that you aren't "needed".
Congrats on your forthcoming arrival!
One quick note would be that the logo is linking to babyli.st/index when it could really just link to babyli.st. That way I don't have to click the Back button twice. :)
Similar idea, but with the variant of your own domain and the ability to announce to friends etc, when your baby is born.
In the mean time work out a way to ensure as few people as possible have to verbally pass the domain on, think about tools which enable you to let the interested party notify their friends that this is their list; easy things like publishing to facebook, twitter, email, etc.
(some of these may have been done, sorry if they are - I didn't take the time to look it over to thoroughly).
Looking at the company I think you might have to pay a hefty whack to get that domain.
I'm going to guess that they didn't have anyone there who knew what to do with your request, was it a money offer. I think I'd make a modest money offer (no more than a couple of hundred GBP) - people generally know what to do with an offer of money.
Make it very clear that you want to buy babylist.com name only, that you're not competing directly with them and are based in the US.
I don't think you want a huge offer as this will ring a bell saying "ooh, I better check with someone if I can get more ...".
YMMV considerably, grace and peace.
2. Your domain name sucks. Look for something better. This is impossible to recall.