Website, blogs, LinkedIn bio…the list of online credentials I like to provide to potential clients keeps growing. Recently I’ve begun to view this as a problem. I find myself sending emails full of links, explaining each link with a little tagline, trying to anticipate what each prospect might want to see.
After I hit “Send,” I worry that I’m boring people with Too Much Information. And it certainly does make for ugly-looking emails.
Last week I received a Google alert about a client. The link in the alert was to something called “Vizify.” I clicked and gaped. There was a fabulous infographic about the client: His picture, quotes, and links to his webpages and blogs. It was colorful, it was fun, it was professional — and it beat my fussy linked-cluttered email by a mile.
Of course, I went right over to Vizify.com and signed up for my own Vizify page. I was impressed with how easy it is to use the online tool, and how great the result looks. You can link to any webpage you want, or let Vizify use algorithms to pull your content directly from LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter, FourSquare or Instagram. Once published, my site was immediately picked up by search engines and appeared high in search results for my professional information.
The story behind Vizify
Shortly after publishing my page, I received an email from Vizify.com inviting me to phone one of the executive team with any questions.
I called, left a message, and got a call-back from CEO Todd Silverstein. We talked about how he, Eli Tucker and Jeff Cutler-Stamm developed the Vizify service and where they hope to go with it.
“Online identity is becoming increasingly important,” Todd said. “We felt that the tools for self-presentation that are available could be much better. Your LinkedIn profile looks the same as everyone else’s — we wanted to open it up, to help people express all facets of themselves.”
What Vizify offers is a striking graphic design, in a retro flavor, that the user can customize by choosing a color palette and then adding content — text, links, and photos. In essence it’s a slide show: The first page is a visual table of contents. A visitor can click through from any element on the contents page to read a quote, see academic history, see online profile links, or find out what you’ve been Tweeting about. Or a visitor can browse through your whole Vizify slide show.
While the choices are, on first glance, limited, Todd said that creative users are already stretching the boundaries of what can be done. They hide types of pages they don’t need, and they make multiples of other types of pages, such as interesting statistics.
“People are hacking the design,” he said. “We’ve had people put up, instead of photos, QR codes. People are using screen captures of longer pieces of text.”
While working on the Vizify design, the team discovered the people like seeing bits of information, each representing key areas about an individual. Todd calls it “the cocktail party effect.”
“At a party, you go from topic to topic until you find something, some shared interest that activates a conversation,” he said. “Part of what we’re trying to do with the Vizify design is bring those interesting aspects to the top to promote that moment of interaction.”
Less than a month old, Vizify has attracted notice from Mashable, TechCrunch, and from mainstream media such as CBS MoneyWatch. It’s been called a “personal landing page,” an “online business card,” and a “graphical bio.”
The next steps, according to Todd, include the rollout of tools to enable the display of more complex portfolios of content — capabilities that will enable Vizify to sell premium plans (the current service is free).
If less is more, will bigger be better?
I’m a big fan of Vizify and look forward to experimenting with the current capabilities. It will be interesting to see how it fares as it adds more features.
What makes it particularly wonderful now is that it pretty much forces people to lead with interesting high points (facts, quotes, hot topics) while discouraging the sort of jargon-clogged, mission-statement banalities that deaden so many online resumes and Linkedin profiles.
If given the chance to use more features, will people be able to resist the temptation to turn their Vizify profiles from intriguing introductions to boring brag books? I sure hope so. Vizify is solving a lot of communications problems for me, and I’m hoping it will become the new standard for professional online identity.