By Mary Liebowitz

October 1st, 2014

My Twitter feed has been filled with commentary recently on the latest social network with the unassuming name, Ello. Many of the comments seem to echo the sentiment of “I don’t know what it is, but I’m not looking at it!”. The reviews proclaim “It’s ugly!”, and call it a “flash in the pan”.

In my world, son (hitches up pants to just above waist height), we call that “buzz”.

At Falcon Social, I think 20 or 30 of us are currently testing Ello – mainly to see what it’s all about, but also because when one person in the office has a box of shiny new stuff, we all want one. We love keeping an eye on trends in social media. On our team, Ello’s five-at-a-time invitation format created a rapidly lengthening internal thread of requested and shared invitations. Now we’re on board, and floating along Ello’s jet stream together like a clump of conjoined inner tubers.

Ello inner tubes

What the controversy is about

Ello is new and uncertain. Some people feel that they’ve bitten off more than they can chew. Much of the negative feedback I’ve read also talks about the insurmountable task of “getting everyone you know to leave Facebook and go over to Ello”. A surprising number of comments equate enthusiasm for Ello to lemmings jumping off of a cliff, as if people have seen so many social networks come and go, they’re better off right here on the porch, yelling at the kids to get off their lawn.

I’m no millennial myself. I wore flannel shirts the first time aroundand I mean, back in the 1800’s. But I appreciate the opportunity to try different formats for networking and social sharing, and see how teams interpret how we enjoy interacting with each other. For me, it’s about the exploration, and the new perspective.

What the team thinks

Ello has an unambiguous design focus, and I wanted to check in with a few of our own designers to get their feedback.

“It looks like they have some way to go before they’ve defined their true colors. I see a lot of good intentions in putting content first, and trying to create an invisible UI while finding the balance so that it doesn’t sacrifice the UX. It’s in an early state, and I’d like to see some more before I can say whether or not I’d use the space myself, but I like that people want to explore other options.”

Mads Hensel Head of Design, Falcon Social

Designers Casper Iversen and Hannah Bretherton like the clean, noise-free interface. “It’s a very visual universe, not very text-heavy or busy,” says Hannah. 

“This is clearly about content–with the user in focus, and that’s what I like about it,” adds Casper. “No fancy buttons, icons, ads, or any other of the millions of distractions you see elsewhere.”

In summary

We like Ello’s intent to deliver unobtrusive content, where the user is able to steer more of the experience independently, free from ads and data collection. I think the real value of Ello is not in what it does, but more in the abstract of what it doesn’t.

I hope the team is able to stay on course, and deliver what they mean to. It’s great to be able to offer an alternative in social networking. We’ll be testing it out, and rooting for their success.


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