Center’d Is Something New

Center'd logoFrom the proverbial “30,000 foot” view, one might be tempted to describe Center’d (formerly Fatdoor) as “Yelp meets Evite with a bit of Zvents thrown in.” But that would miss the point. Center’d isn’t really the latest local search site with some additional features.

At its core Center’d is a social planning tool for women (maybe men too). Think: mom’s groups, PTAs, book groups, church organizations and so on. There are a number of use cases that immediately struck me: travel planning with small groups, dinner out with friends, what to do this weekend, potlucks and fundraisers, block parties, etc. The site is very task oriented and it’s trying to create practical tools that individuals and groups (large or small) can use to accomplish a range of objectives.

Take a look:

planning 1

planning 2

Center’d has organized itself around three major areas: People, Places and Plans.

Plans involves the planning tools I described above, but also the ability to discover things to do in a calendar-centric format:

Events

In addition to a public database of events, which is currently incomplete, I will see my events and those of my network on the calendar. This ability to discover things to do and to manage my planning with this calendar view is extremely useful. Should I be able to export this information (to my personal calendar or mobile phone) or share it with others? Yes, and I suspect those features will come in time.

Places offers a “local search” function. it’s a way for me to discover where to eat, stay or shop. The functionality is quite reminiscent of the original SmartView tool on Yahoo! Maps (CEO Jennifer Dulski came from Yahoo!). And I can build plans or group activities around this capability as well.

Places

My Places is a bunch of lists that are built by saving any location or listing with a click. Those lists may be public or private. This functionality has the capacity to quickly create implied recommendations: if I’ve saved a place it’s presumably because I go there or endorse it. While this isn’t a foolproof way to build recommendations — there are no reviews currently on the site — it’s much quicker than asking people to write reviews.

Here’s my biggest complaint about the site: the data are incomplete and old in some cases. Some pretty basic category searches in the SF Bay Area failed to reveal well established businesses and locations, although when I specifically looked for the business names in the search field I was able to find them in many cases. But I would expect the data to improve with time.

The People component is a “social network” of sorts, but it’s not perfunctory or gratuitous. It’s really a groups tool to help facilitate planning and activities.

Each of the three major areas of the site has a “My” component, which will serve to make it “sticky” (to use the tired phrase) for many users. All of this is tied together with a personal dashboard:

Dashboard

When I was formally briefed a couple days ago Dulski told me that her team is launching the site formally at a PTA conference rather than a tech conference. They’re also explaining and introducing it to “mommy bloggers.” Really, who cares if I or Read/Write Web or TechCrunch write about this? Center’d’s management knows its target audience and they’re being extremely smart about rolling it out to that audience.

Another refreshing thing about the site is that it’s being called a “first draft” rather than the cold and now meaningless “beta.” All these things point to eventual success for Center’d.

Of course the site isn’t perfect and is lacking some functionality that I think should be there, or should be there eventually. The point, however, is that Center’d has taken a category that is filled with “me too” sites and created something new by taking a very user-centric and practical approach. It’s an example of how “local search” can be reinvented by combining existing elements in new and creative ways.

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One Response to “Center’d Is Something New”

  1. Nesting: Start Page for Women « Screenwerk Says:

    […] influencers in local. This site actually may do a slightly better job, in certain respects, of what Center‘d trying to do for women, which is help them with planning and organizing their lives […]

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