Written by Jase Clamp Sunday, 04 July 2010 17:43
I have this recurring day dream that takes place during boring meetings. I day dream that I am jumping from a plane or off of something really high and letting the cool air rush past me, pulling the parachute at the right time and gliding down. Weird. I know. I'm not even the adventure seeking type. It must be just the perfect junxtaposition for my mind to a hum-drum meeting. I'm not sure why I'm sharing that except it must be the perfect intro to todays blog topic...What is user base? I'll explain it in a second but first,
Why is user base worth talking about?
User base is the most important metric that I've observed to the success of an online project. We've worked with various companies that have launched as initial startups as well as those that have gone through rounds of private funding. The number one question for them is "what is your user base?" If that is the first question, lets talk about what it means and again, why it's such a telling metric.
So what is it?
User base (Jase's definition) is the number of people using your offering. It's that simple. Its a condensation of the concept of market share. Basically, the number of people using or consuming your online offering is a direct indicator of how "good" it is. The masses can't lie. If people get on and start utilizing what you're offering online and tell their friends and your userbase grows, then it is quite obvious that what you are offering is good. 100s if not 1000s of people are seeing enough merit in what you're offering to use it so therefore investors are quite confident that there is a future for their money in your product.
The actual usage can vary. A blog has a userbase in it's readership. Very widely read blogs that have been around for a long time have an amazing power to influence their large readership. That influence can mean 100s of 1000s of purchasing dollars for a given product or service. Just one mention on a powerful blog can make or break a product or service. The userbase comes from the fact that many people have come to trust X blog as a source of good information. They trust that information. That blog will surely benefit financially from that trust when they approve or disapprove advertisers to be featured on their page.
User base can come in the form of functionality. A website that serves a very specific and targeted purpose. Lots of people may come to use it just because it very adequately serves a need. Google provided a good search and great email, so their userbase is massive. You can see what userbase did for them.
How does userbase impact a web initiative?
Here is what is amazing about userbase, you can build something that is really fantastic, but unless a lot of people use it, it's absolutely worthless. The worth of a product or service in the Internet world is measured by how many people actually use it. That is the most honest and blatant indicator of an offering that there is. On the other hand, you can have a service that is really basic, but it's meeting a need and growing quickly. The power of userbase will see that company into the "big league."
The key to any success is identifying what is really important. If that is userbase then how to get it is a topic of much thought. Creating something noteworthy is a good starting point. Noteworthy content that is fresh and always current.. functionality that is free or very competatively priced and is targeted at a specific need. There are many blogs that have written 100s of articles on the "how" part of this topic. Many books have been written. I just think if you have an idea, that you think is really good, then pursue that, get a team together to make it happen, maybe you'll be the next person with that userbase. There will be a great number of people acknowledging your work saying "I signify that this is worth my time, thank you."