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Hi, I’m Brad Feld, a managing director at the Foundry Group who lives in Boulder, Colorado. I invest in software and Internet companies around the US, run marathons and read a lot.

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The BigDoor MiniBar

Comments (8)

If you are reading this on my website you’ll see a new bar popup at the bottom of your browser.  It’s the BigDoor MiniBar.  If you are a regular reader of Feld Thoughts, check in and join the community.

BigDoor MiniBar

We invested in BigDoor earlier this year as part of our Distribution theme.  BigDoor’s goal is to “gamify” any website.  They’ve built a very deep and rich set of functionality around game mechanics via a programmable API – things like checkins, points, badges, trophies, levels, and a virtual economy.  For an example of a deep integration, take a look at Devhub or the summary article on TechCrunch titled DevHub Now Turns Building A Website Into A Game.

Three months ago at a board dinner in Seattle we discussed the idea of creating a much lighter weight implementation – basically something that a publisher like me could implement on my site without having to write any code.  This lighter weight implementation, now called the MiniBar, actually uses the full BigDoor API but has a UX for configuration and implementation in front of it that makes it easy to set up BigDoor on your site within five minutes.

I’ve been an investor in a number of publisher-enabling businesses and have learned a lot over the past five or so years.  I learned the most from FeedBurner, which was one of the first publisher-enabling businesses I invested in.  They did a remarkable job of providing both a five minute implementation as well as a very deep programmatic API that allowed a publisher to control many aspects of the system. They encapsulated this in a brilliantly executed UX that made it easy to implement a variety of complex features with simple choices.  This UX also allowed FeedBurner to regularly roll out new features without impacting the old UX.

With the release of the MiniBar, BigDoor is taking a page from the FeedBurner playbook.  Now any web site, from a single blogger to a high end multi-site international media property or high volume ecommerce site can quickly (in under five minutes) implement a full game mechanic system, while preserving the ability to manipulate any aspect of it, either through the MiniBar UX (which will continue to evolve with every two week sprint) or the rich BigDoor game mechanic API.

The first MiniBar implementation includes Facebook Connect, an XP (experience point) system, a checkin system (throttled to allow checkins every 30 minutes), badges, a leaderboard, a daily deal (purchased with virtual currency – Feld Gelt – that you can earn or buy), and site sharing on Twitter, Facebook, Tumblr, and via email.

You’ll see this evolve regularly.  BigDoor runs on a two-week sprint with a full release every two weeks.  I’ve seen the next version of the MiniBar due in mid-January – there’s much more UI configuration control along with several new features.

If you are a publisher or blogger and want to gamify your site, give the BigDoor MiniBar a try – I’d love to hear your feedback (and check in on your site).  And – if you want a direct connect with the company, just email me.

  • http://www.ronen82.com Ronen Mendezitsky

    This is a very nice idea. I do like all the layers I have on different webpages with minibars or extensions for my browser that enrich the activity rather then allow me to carry on somewhere else via links. I no longer need to jump from a search engine an back if I want to know who Brad Feld is, I just highlight the name and get the info, pics, videos. Same goes for products, books, music, movies, tv and pretty much everything. These sort of additions let you keep members inside your website, rather then leave, which is the most important thing – Everyone to achieve as much face time with their surfers, just like facebook does.

  • Anonymous

    A Comments, Chat, and/or Feedback options near “Share” would be a great additions to this. A way for users to communicate with the website and other visitors and the website solicit feedback.

    I have been using Marginize quite a lot to check in to websites, leave comments, earn badges etc.. but sometimes I’d like to leave feedback to a site without sharing my comment to Twitter/Facebook/etc. I only want it in site as part of that community.

    There are tools for all of these things.. site chat, comments, feedback, checking in, gaming, etc. But what webmaster wants to put addons all over the place? Multiple protruding add ons all over the site are annoying and take focus away from the site itself.. especially the bars with ads ala Meebo. I do think the deals angle with BigDoor is pretty cool though.

  • http://www.brekiri.com/ Greg4

    I think I have a mild case of gamification fatigue. At the moment, the idea of gaining XP and checking in at websites is a huge turnoff. Given my past track record of assessing internet trends, that probably means this will be huge. ;-) I think more game mechanics need to focus on giving people things they find intrinsically rewarding, not just trotting out the points and leaderboards again.

    To that point, the deal sounds somewhat interesting, but I don’t see any real connection between the blog and Fandango tickets (today’s deal). Is there a deal that particularly resonates with feld.com? I don’t know. I think that’ll be tricky for a lot of sites to figure out. But something like a conference or book discount, or coffee with Brad, sounds more enticing than a generic deal that could just as easily show up anywhere on the internet.

    • http://www.feld.com bfeld

      Re: deals – yes – there will be ones that are a lot more interesting
      shortly. For example, consider an integration with
      http://www.dealcoop.com/bradfeld in the works!

  • http://srcasm.com Jesse Middleton

    It’s an interesting idea and I could see it being very cool across networks of content. It could even drive people that visit the tech section of one site to also visit the fashion section or the finance area in order to gain XP.

    One thing that they need to work on is describing the point/value of the bar to newcomers. It worked well on Feld.com because I was reading your post on it but on a random site this could be VERY confusing. A “Getting started?” link or “What’s this?” button could help with that. One other thing is that there is a disconnect between XP and “Feld Gelt” right now. This could also be explained (maybe there’s a 2x thing going on as I have 5 XP and 10 Feld Gelt) to the user to really push them to preforming actions on the site to gain additional FG.

    Just my two cents so far but it seems like it will make for an interesting new sub-industry of tech — Gamifying the world.

    • http://www.feld.com bfeld

      Great suggestions. All coming soon, including “networks of content”
      (this can be done today with BigDoor’s API but it’s not yet built into
      the MiniBar.)

  • Tom

    Looks broken on the iPad. Shows up in the middle of the post. Is any one else tired of badges? I feel like a cub scout again.

    • http://www.feld.com bfeld

      I’ll look into the iPad / Safari version.

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