Social Networking for Nurses :: Nurse Linkup

Nurse Linkup LogoAs readers of this blog may or may not be aware of I am a Registered Nurse. I rarely if ever talk about my job or nursing or anything else to do with my career. In fact I make a point of not doing so. You can read all about this in posts that I have made before. But I think that given my career this site was worth talking about. I found late last week a social networking site for nurses. On the whole NurseLinkup is a fine effort and has all the elements to be successful with the target audience.

On first look this site is simple. But I think that is important. The reason being is that I am an exception; most nurses are not tech savvy. Sure we are where it counts, in what we do but RSS feeds, forums, podcasts and social networks… nope. So simplicity with this audience is important. It is also important because nurses are efficient people and more often than not tired. They don’t want or need a plethora of options to choose from. The information has to be easy to obtain, clear in it’s purpose and topic and it has to be quality content worth reading. Five out of five in my opinion. Niche social networks should learn a thing or two from the implementation shown here.

I could see this site as a wonderful place of information exchange and mutual support and discussion of issues that are important to the nursing profession. It has a number of features that it employs to accomplish these things.

Apart from the front page there are News, Articles and Forum tabs. All obvious and accessible from the front page. Although I would suggest that they source more than one site or service for their news and update more often. I do not know if this is a user contributed thing or not. So it may be that the users are not that involved yet. I have found that in cases like this then the best thing to do is to lead by example, which it appears they are doing if this is the case.
The inclusion of “most viewed” and “most popular” is a nice touch. However, what makes them different? If it has something to do with the comments then one tab needs to say “most commented”. But other than that this is a good tool to see what is relevant and felt most passionately by the users. There is a predominant U.S feel to the site but then that is where this is based so I would not expect less. In time should the service gain traction it will be good to see input from around the globe. The networking element of this as time goes on will be invaluable to nurses from everywhere.

The articles seem to have an educational focus. In addition to expanding your practice and getting the most out of your career in nursing. I noticed that there were articles on travelling with nursing and career paths in nursing. Along with a whole heap of other quality articles that are well written and researched with references. Users can also rate and comment on articles. I have not seen this as well done in this type of format before. I was also pleased to see that the articles are “on site” and not just links to articles elsewhere.

The forums are as you might expect. But the options are simple but as I said they need to be. There are forums for students, general nursing and speciality areas plus some others. Once you click on an option the various forums are displayed and the layout in it’s simplicity and ease of use is to be commended. I love the fact that they are making this technology accessible to people that would otherwise not bother or have the knowledge to do so. Any nurse out there would be able to access this service and be able to participate and get something out of it and most importantly put something back.

With these features there is also all the things that make for top usability and simplicity. Tagging is a well utilized feature, although I would question the validity of some tags (a sentence a tag does not make). There are lists of active users. Profiles and most importantly to me an RSS feed in addition the ability to subscribe via email if you don’t have a clue what RSS is. I like the thinking here. Again this makes the technology and therefore the content accessible via a medium that people both understand and trust. Users are able to blog on the site, add friends and upload photos. I would consider these features as standard for social networks but again simplicity at it’s best; well implemented and functional. Nice job.

The site is graphically very appealing and not over the top. The site speed is good but the user base is small and yet to be truly tested. I would however question their picture use in the header. It seems a bit “old school” to me. You have to look at your demographic. Sure nurses are all ages, but what types of nurses are going to be making their way to these sites and services? I think that it is going to be the slightly younger crowd or those of a more modern thinking ilk. Or at least those that have the ability to use a computer and trust the Internet enough to join. This is definitely a younger crowd and I would argue skewed male. I think that a more appealing graphic to cater to this crowd would be better. But not over the top so you would still catch the rest. In my experience it just seems in stark contrast to other social networking sites. These services usually rely on good coding and appealing layout with a nice simplistic logo as opposed to a picture that I might find in a nursing journal. It is not a bad picture, but I can’t help but think it is out of place. But that is just my opinion.

One other criticism that I would have is that of their default avatar. It depicts in silhouette an image that would be considered a female. This may well be associated with the Bio that users set up. But if there is not the option to choose between a male and a female avatar; should you choose not to display your own, I would consider this a stereotypical assumption. I am a male nurse and I am constantly being mistaken for or thought to be a doctor only because I am male. It pains me that this is still the case in the 21st century, it would disappoint me more if this is the case in a community built by nurses for nurses.

These are minor gripes on a social network that is well built and implemented for the target audience and user base. Clearly a lot of thought and effort has gone into presenting a site that works and contains good quality content. I am very proud that we nurses are up there competing with major, better covered and known sites in design and usability. If anything this is an excellent example of how a niche community should be done compared to some if not most that I see (and that is a lot). This is no throw together service. I wish them all the best and hope that they see the growth that a site such as this needs to become a rich source of information and collaboration.

NurseLinkup Screenshot

COLOURlovers: Now That is a Niche!

COLOURlovers LogoJason Calacanis will say that if you want an audience and you want to grow it quickly then go to the white space. That is go and write or do something that isn’t being done by anyone else. COLOURlovers I would argue is a site such as this. If anyone else knows of such a site let me know. Regardless if there is another site that does a similar thing it is narrow and unique. Plus it is very, very well done.

COLOURlovers is a site about, well; colour! The purpose of which is to monitor colour influences and trends. It includes news, new palettes, articles about colour, discussions, articles and even jobs you name it; if you are into colour it is here. It is a great resource for web developers, designers, artists and anyone that is interested in or uses colour as a medium or as an aspect of their work. There are but few of us that could say that colour has no influence on us. Even colour blind people see shades of colour. We all know what colours go well together and what doesn’t. So this site probably has something for everyone as well.

There are pages dedicated to trends, although I noted that there were mainly print media examples. But why not submit a website or a palette yourself? You can also search for colours using filters tags and keywords. Join the community, rate colours and be involved in discussions all about colour.

Well executed site that is well and truly a narrow niche that will attract very like minded people. So good in fact I wish I was a colour nut!

COLOURlovers Screenshot

Wikipedia for Your Desktop

Here’s something I did not know about the wonderful Wikipedia. I might be talking about something that is as old as last years news. But it is news to me.

Wikipedia as you may or may not know is a top source of reliable information and facts, a free on-line encyclopedia. But did you know that they also have a category entitled: Wikipedia featured desktop backgrounds? Well they do and while not the definitive source of desktop backgrounds, they are fairly good and one or two might be your taste and it is cool that it is Wikipedia.

For the pictures to get into this catagory they have to have three qualities:

  1. Wikipedia Featured Pictures or Commons Featured Pictures
  2. They are big enough to be used as wallpaper
  3. They have an aspect ratio of 4:3 or 5:4

There are currently 96 files listed for use. Covering all tastes and genres there are some interesting science based ones and arty type ones for those inclined. Something for everyone.

By the way something else I noticed is that Wikipedia has cracked the 1 million dollar mark and some in their fund-raising! Amazing.

Wikipedia 1 million

 

Wikipedia Featured Desktop Backgrounds Screenshot

Apple Rock the World

Well that is how I feel at any rate. I have often wonderewd if I would like a Mac. Watching Steve Jobs and his keynote presentation makes you want one. Huge announcements and the biggest (if the blogosphere is anything to go by) being the iPhone.

If you have not watched the keynote then I suggest that you do, for the whole effect and demo’s of the devices that are presented. The streaming video is about two hours. However, for those of you that might be a bit bandwidth impaired there is a blow by blow written account of the presentation with photos on Engadget.

I have watched it and I was indeed blown away. But there have been enough people blog about what Steve has said so I am not going to repeat it. But from another angle, I was reading through my feeds and came across an entry made on 37 Signals and I would have to say that it is a nice “prediction” of what the “Apple Phone” was going to be. As it was written before the announcement it is an interesting reflection and not far from the truth.

No doubt the details of the keynote will provide weeks of blogging material for a lot of people and then some. The details make for much more interesting reading this is mainly hype at the moment. I don’t see Microsoft anywhere, I do think they have reason to worry. I want a Mac.

This Blog is Part of the Beta Group to Test Snap!

I have just learned that the Rooster’s Rail is part of the beta group of blogs on WordPress that is testing a plugin called Snap, which is short for Snap Preview Anywhere™. I am very very excited about being a part of this group. I saw Snap some time ago and liked the concept a lot. So much so that I have requested that it be implemented on The Global Geek Podcast Blog. Hopefully that is happening in the next couple of months. For those people that don’t know what Snap is you are probably asking, what the heck is The Rooster on about now?

Snap is a great feature that enables visitors to your site or blog mouse or hover over a link and have a preview pop up. Yeah it is just eye-candy really. But it does give you a bit of an idea if you want to go to a site or not, what it looks like. The images are high resolution so they look great. Or maybe you are just curious and don’t want to visit but just have a peek. Tops, this is great for that. In addition to that it is just plain cool!

Anyone can have Snap on their site by signing up and placing some code in their page. Us WordPressers don’t have the ability to put this type of code in our pages, especially since this is a script. Yet again the WordPress gurus have come through and are giving us feature after feature, and now we get Snap! Woot. This is definitely a place you want to be. I continue to be impressed and pleased to be a part of this community.

For those that absolutely dislike this feature, you can disable it. Doing this will disable Snap on any site not just the one you are looking at. You must refresh the page to not see them. The good thing is that it is not permanent. Disabling it works by using a cookie in your browser. So if you want the functionality of Snap back just delete your browser cookies.

This is a great feature for WordPress users and readers and I sure hope that they keep it. I like it and I think it is useful. Thanks Matt and crew another winner in my book and I am looking forward to seeing it utilized in my posts. Readers of this blog, I would love to know what you think and I will include your comments in my feedback to WordPress Admin. I would also be interested to know what other beta testers here thought about it.

Snap Preview Anywhere Screenshot

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