Springpad Wants to Be Your Online Home for the Holidays, And After

11/21/08Follow @wroush

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the full platform is still under development, and we wanted to get some users into the system and start gathering some feedback.”

So one of Springpad’s first challenges, to my mind, will be to avoid becoming known simply as a holiday-planning site—or, come January, a wedding-planning site. “Our notion is to roll this out on some sort of editorial calendar and look at what people’s needs are on a seasonal, topical basis, introducing Springpads that are very focused,” says Janer. “Now, by doing that are we creating awareness for a platform, or for a specific solution? I don’t quite know the answer yet.”

A sample springpadAnother challenge will be to show users how to take advantage of all the features built into the platform once they feel confident enough to venture beyond the pre-built templates like the holiday planners. From playing around a little bit with Springpad, I have the sense that it’s highly versatile, and that people will come up with many interesting uses for it that Janer and his team haven’t even imagined. But beyond the pre-formatted springpads, the company doesn’t yet provide much in the way of tips or support on how to employ all its tools. (One exception is the nice introductory video, embedded below.)

And one more key task—the one that could really differentiate Springpad from other personal information management tools, if the company succeeds at it—will be to provide more points of integration between Springpad and the dozens of other consumer-oriented Web services springing up these days. Almost every Web 2.0 company worthy of the name provides application programming interfaces (APIs) that outside developers can use to grab and repurpose their data. Spring Partners’ software engineers have already taken advantage of a few of these: you can import your appointments from Google Calendar and restaurant reviews from Yelp and make dining reservations using OpenTable, for example. But there’s a ton more that the company could do in this vein. Some of the more obvious things to add would be shopping lists that link directly to Amazon or Peapod, or calendars that alert members to concerts and other events in their areas and link to Ticketmaster, or health and fitness planners that link to online medical records at Google Health or Microsoft HealthVault.

Three members of the Spring Partners teamA very cool feature that could become a signature of the Springpad service is the “Springit badge.” You can see how this feature works by going to TheSimpleMe.com or SpringAdvice.com, blogs where Spring Partners employees collect material from around the Web that can be adapted into springpads. For example, there’s a post at springadvice.com about the website Dumb Little Man, which recently published a list entitled “The 9 Best Ways to Get Organized by Year’s End.” Springadvice.com provides a Springit badge that will automatically turn this top-9 list into a task list in your Springpad account. Janer showed me how the company is working with online publishers to embed Springit badges alongside all sorts of Web content—for example, an article at HGTV.com on how to reorganize your garage. (When Springpad sucks in such content from external sources, it can bring ads along with it, which Janer sees as one of the important revenue sources for the company.)

Janer says the response to Springpad has been gratifying so far. He says the site got a huge influx of users this week—putting some strain on the company’s servers, in fact—when Lifehacker published a post on it.

Those new users certainly won’t suffer from blank slate syndrome. But my guess is that the tool’s real utility won’t become apparent until the company has had time to introduce key features like a Web clipper and a mobile application, and to get Springit badges embedded in more places around the Web. Then we’ll see whether it has the potential to be the über-organizing solution that finally banishes the dust bunnies.

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Springpad Introductory Video

Wade Roush is Chief Correspondent and Editor At Large at Xconomy. You can subscribe to his Google Group or e-mail him at wroush@xconomy.com. Follow @wroush

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