Yumondo is an "urban stylesharing" social network startup currently in private beta testing, that claims it will set new standards for community on Web 2.0. The site approaches community from a place and style standpoint. The vision is obviously one of creating local communities that branch outward (from a distinct place or location), rather than the traditional Web 2.0 model of remote communities reaching out to a diverse geographic user base. At Yumondo, users share their real home and their sense of style.
Yumondo is being developed by the German Web technology company Metaversum. CEO Jochen Hummel, a Silicon Valley veteran, is the founder and is backed by an impressive development team.
Yumondo (Meaning: Your World)
This site has all the earmarks of communities like MySpace and other clones, but it is focused more on what I would call "local mental maps" of the individual users. Good sharing, connection and tools are some of the basic community features of Yumondo - as is expected. But the focus has been realigned to target favorite activities and places in the physical world as well as the digital one. Users are immediately identified with their physical community on signup by name, and simple buttons labeled My Home, People, Places, Events and Things symbolize the simple message of community. Without going too far into the ethereal, I believe that people really think of their communities in the same rather compartmentalized and ordered way that this site is organized.
The Comfort of the Familiar
The site design is simple. The UI is not extraordinary except that it is perfectly usable and easy to understand. A Yumondo user can easily browse or search people, places, events and things - though data is very sparse at this stage. Google maps is utilized, as are tags - and a tag cloud gives relevant results for "nearby" sub categories.
Yumondo searchable tag cloud and Google maps
Sharing Events, Places and Fun
My first impression on realizing the "vision" or methodology behind Yumondo was that it would turn into a rather shallow local bar or club locator. But after creating something really special to share with our readers, I realized the actual utility and potential worth of the service. Not only can a user provide excellent suggestions and locations for visitors and friends, but groups of people can also share moments and events in the context of 'community' or place. This is perhaps the greatest aspect of an idea like Yumongo, the mental and emotional mapping of what one finds to be excellent or worthy in life - rather than in just either dimension of it (physical or digital). The image below is of an exclusive and excellent resort on the Atlantic coast of Georgia where I live. The simple creation of this place combined with the "homey" context is what sets this community apart. I expect this aspect is by design and know others will be pleasantly surprised by it. I had fun sharing the extravagance of a legendary and beautiful place near my home with other users.
My Brunswick Yumondo showing the familiar profile, simple buttons and a world class spa
Pros and Cons
It would be wholly unfair to over scrutinize any startup this early in its development. Yumondo is very well thought out at this point and there is user enjoyment and utility. The geographic, cultural and emotional aspects of what we too easily term 'community' these days is truly inherent inside this website.
Cons? Any web 2.0 community is reliant on getting users and traffic - and Yumondo is especially susceptible to this. The lack of video sharing and other media offerings is a drawback as well, but certainly this will be added at some point.
Yumondo is a social networking community of the next order. The developers have termed their refinement of an established idea "urban stylesharing". I suppose this is as good a tag as any, for a great place to mirror our actual communities. The simplicity and familiarity of the tools and services will make users feel at home. After a little time inside the site, any user will start to view places like MySpace as rather disjointed and fragmented by comparison. But make no mistake about it, this startup will need to get participation and network effects early on.
To be honest, I never thought I would write another positive review of a beta test for a social community. Well, we should all learn to "never say never", because the inevitable will happen. Yumondo has great potential in my view, and as I have said before the key ingredient to its success is 'you'. Sometimes that is a tall order, but I hope other people enjoy sharing places as much as I did.