If you've been out shopping and needed help making a decision, you've probably done this: taken pictures with your cellphone and emailed or texted them to a friend for their input. Should I buy the black boots or the brown ones? Should we buy the futon or the hide-a-bed?
That's the experience that led Lindsey Harper to found Swayable. She was shopping for a car rack and wanted her husband's input: Thule or Yakima? The process of snapping two separate photos and sending two separate emails was "clunky." So she set out to make the process easier.
How she did so is an interesting story in itself. But first, a little about the app.
You can create a Swayable via the Web or via your iPhone (iTunes link). To do so, you simply snap or upload 2 photos of the things you need to choose between. You can opt to make this public or private (if you choose the latter, only people with the URL will be able to see the Swayable and vote). Then you can share the Swayable to your social networks, by email, and via SMS or you can embed it into a website.
Then the voting and the commenting begins, all in real-time. The iPhone app has push notifications, so you needn't keep the app open while your friends weigh in.
You can also vote on the Swayables that others have submitted as well.
One look at that screenshot reveals which demographic has already adopted Swayable. Yes, it's the tween and teen market. Armed with their phones and their love of Justin Bieber, you'll find that there is a rich trove of "which haircut do you like better?" sorts of questions on the site. (Don't let that dissuade you from trying Swayable. You can filter your searches, so you needn't see these sorts of celebrity dilemmas.)
That wasn't the usage that Harper anticipated when she sought a better way to make car rack purchasing decisions, but it's certainly where Swayable has seen a huge amount of traction.
The app isn't simply notable for its teenage girl fanbase. We've written about Harper before for her use of Mechanical Turk in building the product. A sole female founder without a technical background but with a lot of experience in project management, Harper has outsourced the entire development of the iPhone and Web app, its design and UX. She still uses Mechanical Turk for moderating and flagging inappropriate comments and images.
Harper says that an Android app is in the works, but her focus right now is on perfecting the iPhone and Web apps and making changes based on user feedback. Could a Justin Bieber-only Swayable app be in the works? Let's make a Swayable and vote!