This summer we listened to you, our readers, about how to improve Shareable. Now, we’re excited to announce a plan for creating version 2.0 of Shareable, and we’d appreciate your feedback.

We’ve learned a lesson from version 1.0 of Shareable that all designers know: focus and simplicity are key to success. So we've decided to focus on two key priorities in order to do them exceptionally well. And we're leaving off everything that doesn't support these priorities.

Priority #1: Connect readers to local events

The feedback we heard most strongly from focus groups and the fall 2012 survey is that you want to meet other people interested in sharing. And you want to do this by participating in events and creating your own events (such as gift circles, swaps, and hackathons.) Today, we launched a prototype of the new Events Calendar. We’re planning to launch a more sophisticated version later this year, so we’d appreciate your feedback on what is working and what could use improvement.

Thank you to the readers who came up with the initial ideas behind the events network, especially:Alpha Lo, Ashley McCartney, Cat JohnsonCristóbal Gracia, Dawnielle Castledine, Kate Drane, Kenn Burrows, and Vivian Wang.

Priority #2: Better tools for social media sharing

Ironically, Shareable’s stories don’t share very well on social media, and we’ve received plenty of complaints from readers about this. We’ve realized that sharing Shareable’s stories is one of the most important things that readers can do to help build the sharing movement.

We’re going to make it easier to share Shareable’s stories, and enable you to have better social media content for your friends by: 1) improving the images and text that appear in social media previews and 2) writing better story headlines that will encourage your friends to click. (For the geeks reading this, we plan to A/B test headlines.)

We also realize that conversations these days mostly happen on social media, not in the comments on the Shareable website. So we’re planning to retire commenting on stories. We’ll also strip out a couple of features that don’t get much use: the registration system and reader profiles. (We’ll keep profiles for everyone who writes a story.) We’re guessing that this may be the most controversial part of the plan, so please weigh in with your feedback.

Other improvements

Make it easier to find stories: There are approximately 2,000 stories on Shareable, but they are difficult to find. We will make it easier for you to find stories — especially our how-to articles, which are very popular. (Improving navigation was the most popular idea for making the website more usable amongst readers in our fall 2012 survey.) We’ll also improve the search functionality (a popular idea in the fall survey, and first suggested by readers in the spring 2012 survey). So thank you to all the readers who pushed for these improvements.

Friendlier for first-time visitors: We plan to welcome new visitors to the site and help them understand what Shareable is about. Thank you to Maritza Schafer for suggesting this idea during our first online focus group, and to Dawnielle Castledine, Jesse Biroscak, Kevin Bayuk, Michael Stoll, and Sharon Ede for building on it.

Mobile devices: A reader suggestion from our spring 2012 survey was to make the website work better on cell phones and tablets. Thank you, we’ll do it!

More global content: Antonin Léonard and a reader in our spring 2012 reader survey suggested that we have more global stories, and the idea was very popular in the fall 2012 survey). We’re listening! We’ve added an Australia correspondent and coverage, and will continue to have more global stories as opportunities arise.

Things we’re not planning to do at this time

There were a couple of popular ideas that came from the focus groups and spring 2012 survey, but we’re not planning to undertake them at this time. This includes a “sharing finder” to locate nearby assets, such as tool-lending libraries or collaborative consumption services, suggested by Christopher Patz and Sharon Ede. This would require a lot of resources to create and keep up-to-date, even if the content was crowdsourced. So for now we’re choosing to focus on the events and social media sharing (see above).

Also popular was a policy tracker to track changes to public policy and laws worldwide related to sharing, suggested by Jesse Biroscak, Michael Stoll and Sharon Ede. After a strategic planning meeting, it’s clear to us that this is important to the sharing movement but doesn’t fit our core priorities for the near future. However, Shareable will do its best to support any organizations or individuals that want to create a resource like this.

We’ll keep these ideas, as well as others that readers suggested, in the mix as we move forward.

Thank you! Your thoughts?

Thank you again to everyone who offered their time, ideas, and opinions. And please let us know your thoughts about this plan by using the comments below.





I was Shareable's Online Community and Fundraising Director from January 2012 through January 2014.

Things I share: I don't own a car, so I share cars by using City CarShare. I have borrowed through Neighborgoods, given and received things via Craigslist, Freecycle, and Yerdle, exchanged on, and participated in the BACE Timebank.