Six Apart recently launched a preview version of their new Vox blogging service. When you log in to Vox, one of the first things you notice on the front page is the Question of the Day followed by a quick posting box. Answer the question, press “continue”, and you’ve got yourself a blog post. I asked Six Apart president Mena Trott how the feature came about.
Jason: Everyone loves the Question of the Day feature on Vox. The QotD cleverly formalizes the memes that travel through LiveJournal and the blogosphere at large, making it OK for the kind of people who hate email joke forwards to participate collectively in something on a regular basis. Who is responsible for generating these questions? Are they recycled memes from LJ or do you have some meme genius working for 6A?
Mena: Question of the Day actually started in a design comp I did — meaning it hadn’t been specified in any product requirements docs. I was creating the Vox dashboard and realized that the one thing really missing from the page was a call to action. So, I tried to think what would be the one thing that would make me want to post and the Question of the Day made total sense.
You’re exactly correct in saying that we’re wanting to legitimize the behavior we’ve seen in email (forwards). It’s all about trying to figure out the behavior that would make my mom feel comfortable posting or make someone not feel overwhelmed by a big white posting box.
If you remember the Four Things meme that floated around a couple months ago, you’ll recall that this simple meme got people (like me) to post on their blogs after significant absences. We wanted to capture that sort of motivator.
And of course, LiveJournal is the inspiration for all of this.
As far as who creates the questions, we have a scratchpad that is generated by various members of the staff as well as suggestions that come in from our feedback forms. We’re still in such an early stage of Vox that these questions are evolving daily. One thing we’ve seen, however, is that the two topics that people most like to answer questions about are nostalgia (favorite childhood candy, childhood fears, etc…) and media-based (favorite movie, song that makes you happy, anything television).
Some questions, surprisingly bomb in an unexpected way. In April, I posed the question “If you had a time machine and could travel anywhere in time, where would you go and why?” It’s a difficult question for those who don’t obsess about time travel as much as I do. And, I have to admit, I made it question of the day since *I* had my own answer. Still, I’d love to try this one again now that more people are in Vox.
Thanks, Mena. Sometimes it’s these little things, tiny addictive hooks, that make the difference between a product taking off, and Vox’s QotD is a nice hook indeed. (Also, I’m totally with you on the time travel question.)