Two years ago, despite service drawbacks, we fell in love with "the Wave". One year later, we developed our own way of using it, including several extentions. After Google announced the termination of Google Wave, we researched its alternatives and decided to develop a new platform — Rizzoma.com. Prior to the launch of Rizzoma, we invited people to fill out our survey on our website. Users from over than 500 teams (thank you all) filled out our evaluation form. This essay is to summarize the survey results: who the wave users are, why are they using it, what the best thing was about the Wave, and what was the most annoying. The final part of the article describes the way these findings influenced the development of Rizzoma.
Who are Google Wave Users? What are They Doing?
Obviously only the loyal users went on with GW since its development has been stopped a year and a half ago. Among those who filled out our survey are: radios tations, photographers, professors, government bureaucrats, lawyers, venture capitalists, luxury boutique owners. Below is the chart of how people used Google Wave:
Activity chart. There is another way to looking at it tag cloud
We asked respondents: "What did you use Google Wave (GW) for primarily". And, as a result, we saw how project lived in the Wave:
- Asynchronous study
- Live brainstorm
- Document drafts
- Knowledge base maintenance
We found it interesting that more than a quarter of teams used GW to plan events. And, 7% of the Wave audience organized exhibitions, conferences, etc. professionally.
The average teamsize was 15
A significant number of people used wave both for business and entertainment communications. Some responded they were participants in several teams, each in GW.
Live Collaboration is the Best Thing in the Wave
We asked: " What is the best thing in the Wave, in your opinion?". The majority of peolpe respondents that Google Wave made live collaboration real. Look at how "collaboration" is prominent in this tag cloud:
We divided user functions into separate groups and simplified the answers based on the user poll from the chart bellow:
Google Wave's best features, from a user point of view.
- Live editing and multi-threaded conversations were the most frequently used wave functions.
- 12% of the audience agreed with Lars and Jens Rasmussens's big idea: "the wave combined: Instant messenger, email, forums, blogs and social network".
- Wave developers had great expectations about robots and gadgets. In fact, only a few people found them useful (although we noticed vote gadget was rated high by users).
- 7% answered that it was great that one could edit others' messages. It was often remarked that other services didn't have this possibility. We found it interesting that people, who don't like GW, don't like the possibility of editing others' messages — this is based on personal interviews and experiences during wave presentations.
Several users favored the wave over Google Documents. The main advantage over Google Docs is unlinear (multi-threaded) comments. Also, they noticed that updates reviews were poorly done in GDocs.
Slow, long Waves Were the Biggest Problem with the Wave
We asked: "What was the most annoying thing in Google Wave?".
Google Wave complaints: Another point of view
Why was the Google Wave project so unsuccessful? We think that the main difficulty was managing long waves. Not only the decrease in speed, but also the need for special functions were the problem. the user experience was limited because it was:
- impossible to roll a wave up to look through headers, as it usually works in forums
- impossible to sort messages inside a wave, like it is possible in a mailbox
- impossible to find something in long waves (browser Ctrl+F function only helps a little)
There are lots of other opinions on why Google Wave failed. Maybe we'll write an article about it latoer on.
Changing Rizzoma Plans According with the Questionare Results
During Christmas, we were enthusiastically reading answers, discussing the most interesting ones, checking links and making tag clouds. The survey goal was making sense of user expectations. Also it helped us prioritize:
- Build the "reply" function as soon as possible.
- Start work on cross-browsers and mobile version in Feb 2012. (first we concentrated on Chrome because it was the easiest to implement)
- Put off working on advanced permission management and group management
- Put off developing special data API and open-social gadgets. (to be noted — we already have alpha-version for open-social)
We came to another important decision: to publish Rizzoma's one year roadmap in Feb of 2012. We believe it will help us keep in touch with the people who use our service in their business. We would appreciate if you could criticize our development process (firstname.lastname@example.org).
Best wishes, Rizzoma team.