Today the World Wide Web welcomes a new bundle of joy emerging out of the delivery room of startups. Once just a glimmer in its parents’ eyes, Lil’ Grams has emerged to become the next great social network for families. When I first reviewed the website, I thought it was something that would be considered as the TheKnot.com version of families. I still hold that assumption true and once more families and expectant mothers and fathers visit the website, they will notice how powerful of a tool Lil’ Grams can be.
Not much could be new since the last time I scoped out the Lil’ Grams website and after glancing through the interface now, it seems that it’s pretty much the same. However, one thing that is quite noticeable is that there’s a new skin on the website – and I rather like what I see. The old design was simple, but stale. It did nothing to entice me to enter into the site and was rather lighthearted. Actually, looking back, in my opinion, I’m not really sure if any creative consideration went into the color scheme. But it didn’t really exude the aura of “this is a site for my baby”.
Scratch that design and let’s work on the new one. This time it’s a more interesting design when it comes to the background of the new site, it’s dark enough and inspiring enough that it draws your attention towards the center of the site and everything is arranged in a more organized fashion. On my first time on the site, I didn’t see any real major complications on finding the information I needed. The team has even put an emphasis on having actual navigation as well where you can see exactly the information that you want:
- Plans & Pricing
- Raves & Reviews
- Support (service provided by GetSatisfaction)
What’s remarkably cool about this enhanced social network is the improved integration with Twitter and Facebook. Harping on Twitter’s OAuth and Facebook Connect systems, Lil’ Grams is basically removing that one extra login step. You can now register for an account on Lil’ Grams using an account you already have.
Still not sold on the prospect of pushing out information about your newborn baby? Why don’t you give it a try for free. Yes, it’s pretty bizarre for a social network to have a monetization structure first, but it seems that Lil’ Grams is getting its ducks in a row. It’s not relying on banner advertisements and feels that it has a true value to play in the scheme of parenthood. But it doesn’t expect you to pay for something you’re unsure of so it’s offering a 30 day free trial that you can sign up for.
I signed up for a free trial even though I don’t have any children, but figured I’d set one up and if I liked it, I would refer it to my friends and family, whom I know have children. The first step is how do you want to log in? You’re given the option of submitting your email and then receiving a code (probably a bit time-consuming) or using more rapid forms of registration with your Twitter or Facebook credentials. I did the Facebook Connect methodology and once I completed my registration, I was sent a confirmation email seeking to authenticate and perhaps engage in double opt-in procedures to possibly send me emails?
Eventually I was able to log back into the system and since I was still connected using Facebook Connect, I was given the chance to make Lil’ Grams more viral by choosing which of my Facebook friends I would like to invite into the network. But if you don’t want to do that, you’re also given the option at this time to gather photos & videos from a variety of sources, including three of the most popular: Flickr, Picasa and Facebook.
Sadly, after going through all of this with the new background and pretty impressive user interface, I’m a bit disappointed in the other user pages where the customer gets to go send various types of “grams” to their friends and family – it still looks the same. But that is definitely not a deal-breaker for why you should use this site.
Other improvements made throughout the site include the creation of the Gift Gram which, at the moment, only allows you to send virtual “gift grams” (a.k.a. gift cards) to anyone you want. I’m sure that this will be good especially during baby showers. In addition to the gift cards, according to co-founder Gregarious Narain, the baby book, which has always been a part of the site since day one, will be getting a bit of a tune-up. Soon “themes” for the baby book will exist so that you can tailor your book exactly how you want it to be. Lastly, did you know that while most social networks want you to be on their site, there are a rare few that will let you update your information straight off of your desktop? Lil’ Grams is one of them. Little known fact was that this desktop application has always existed but now it is more relevant. Don’t worry about opening up that browser anymore. It’s simple to update your baby information and send out messages to your loved ones and even keep track of your baby’s “progress” with the Lil Gram’s Desktop app (heaven).
This may not seem like much improvements for an already existing site. Believe me when I tell you that there are probably more things we can expect to see out of Lil’ Grams that we may not be aware of. It’s been almost three months since they were out in private beta and now they have officially launched their site. They have accomplished what most startups are still struggling to overcome: how to monetize and I’m thinking that there are definite ways for this network to scale.
So sign up. Give it a shot. And let’s welcome the newborn to the growing social network family.