Friday, 28 March 2014

Stopover at Risa

We have Trekspace, there's Facebook, Twitter and all sorts of social media so why would I want to stop off and spend some time on Risa?

That's the question I asked when an email from one Mr Richard   Evans  dropped  into the SKoST inbox a while back. So let's answer it. Why would you? After all we're in a social media explosion and have been for a while. What makes it different, unique? In the first instance let's pass the stage over to Richard and let him explain...

"Risa is a Star Trek social media website designed and built by Star Trek fans. It allows fans to communicate in a social media platform to express their feelings and share their stories. The idea behind this website was to create one social platform where all fans can come together, to share in their stories and meet new people.

Risa utilizes the best features of Facebook and Twitter and combining them together, with some more features specific to the network. We are constantly working on the network to make it better, and we are supported by donations from its users, and advertisement. We have some exciting ideas for the future, and we would love to see as many users as we can on the network sharing in all things Star Trek.

The idea came about when I had finished completing a mission in Star Trek Online. I wanted to share the result but I wasn't a part of any group, fleet or clan. I then thought how there was no social media website for Star Trek fans. After completing an extensive Google Search, the idea was born. Since then, the network has gone through many changes and now has a staff force of five, with great connections throughout the Star Trek community.

Risa is currently proud to have over 450 members and is expanding each and every day. We have a team of three developers who are working on the network to improve it and add new features.

We love the idea of the network spreading to all Star Trek fans across the world and we have some great big ideas for the network, but it all starts with the fans. One thing that we pride ourselves on is listening to fan feedback. We love hearing from fans to help improve Risa – after all, we are creating a network for them.

We regularly run competitions with various prizes ranging from Star Trek Online goodies, to Amazon vouchers, to vouchers off costumes, to a Star Trek wallet. This is something we feel is a good way to keep our new community active and also interesting.

My vision is that the network will be around for many years to come. We will expand and add many more new features for example; an improved rank system based on your number of posts, mobile apps and integration with other social sites such as Tumblr and many more."

Our Time on Risa

So that's the way the guys behind the site see this social media network and it's a brave, impressive venture there can be no question. On the plus side to begin with it's Risa only in name and not a mention of Let He Who is Without Sin wafts through the pages. Thank goodness for that.

I'm a member of only a few groups/sites on the internet because I do find they can be very similiar. The only one that I can suggest comes near in scope to Risa is the Trekspace site. That is much more multimedia based, relying on blog posts, users to add pictures, discuss topics in forums (sporadically used) and the like. Now a tour around the site, which admittedly I've not been on for a while showed that there is very little activity aside from mods posting On This Day in History items and in some respects straying from the Star Trek "purpose" of the site. In all honesty I've never, ever been a fan of the look and feel of Trekspace. It appears a bit like a cheap Facebook with a poor layout and is in need of a serious retrofit.

Risa does have to compete with sites such as Trekspace because there are a lot of people registered on there. They might not be active but they still planted their flag a while back. Can Risa win this audience? Yes is the answer. For starters the look and feel of the site is much cleaner and easy to navigate. Signing up was a piece of cake and editing your profile was a breeze to complete. Trekspace in comparison has a ton of headers and no clear direction as to what you need to do.

Being able to customise your profile easily is absolutely key to winning new users. Make it easy, make it 1,2,3 and the punters will be happy. Now from there I know the team have been doing a lot of work to freshen up the site and it does show. It's a clean, uncluttered layout with very few ways to go wrong. Simply post, add images and you're away and it's very comparable to tweeting or updating a status. I find with Trekspace that things can get over technical and there are just too many things happening on the main page. 

While there adding a blog post and a link can be a bit of a pain, on Risa it was very, very straight forward. The trouble is that with such a limited number of users at the moment it's difficult to get much of a conversation going as there isn't constant activity. It's still growing admittedly but there needs to be much more discussion, interaction and promotion to really make this work well. And it deserves to as, if nothing else it's a breath of fresh air and I don;t end up getting spam messages from foreign lands offering me the chance to make a lot of money - it's very important I message back you understand...(!)

I've not managed to get in on any competitions so far as my presence on the site has been limited but I can say that the people who are using it seem OK from first impressions. Maybe the layout, style and feel of Risa is key to attracting the right audience and ensuring it's not reminiscent of GeoCities and other internet dumping grounds. While Trekspace needs a revamp, Risa is leading the way in terms of user accessibility. Keep it simple and users will return because they want to be able to reach out to others in the fastest and most effective way with the most clout. There's even the option to sign up to a newsletter to keep up to date on what's happening with the network (could do with being more regular) and it's small touches like that which encourage you to return.

Risa does offer all that but the message hasn't reached everyone yet and that's a great shame because the potential is mindblowing. I would encourage more people to get on there and start interacting to keep the site going. If the incentives are real then it's a great tool to lure in fans. Originally it might have been construed as a place to discuss Online however with more people visiting the possibilities are, well, endless.

For those of you who perhaps need a little more encouragement to at least try Risa, here's their promo video...

Interested in taking the trip? Why not head over to Risa right now and join this evolving network right now.

Did you know you can now join up with Some Kind of Star Trek on Facebook or follow us on Twitter or even +1 us on Google+? If you didn't why not drop over there now!

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