Web 2.0 for Moms and Dads

Posted by Kim Lau on Thursday, August 16th, 2007. Filed under: eHub Features

Recently we’ve noticed a pack of websites and apps targeting tech savvy moms and dads. We’ve observed that the websites that cater to families tend to be very community-oriented, and deliberately family-friendly without being overly “girly” (which can be a problem for dad-oriented sites). Care is made to ensure a positive experience for the user, and not just in using the app or website, but also in interacting with other people who use the same tools.

Privacy is also of the utmost importance to the user, and the sites we reviewed bend over backwards to provide different options: user-only, user-and-friends-only, user-and-relatives-only, etc. These choices not only boost the parent’s confidence in the sites, they also bolster the social aspects as users form myriad relationships within the site itself. A site’s privacy features could almost be the one aspect that anchors a user’s experience and keeps him or her committed to using the site.

The objectives of the family-friendly sites that have caught our attention are pretty varied, ranging from parenting and relationships to managing career and family and dealing with the stigma of being a stay-at-home dad. These apps and websites are more than just tools; they foster an open community (with the all-important sufficient privacy checks) and assist with all facets of a family’s life by being all-inclusive and providing a lot of socially-oriented tools, including tagging, advice, forums, blogging, etc.

We’d like to highlight a few that seem to really get it:

Sites for moms

Work It Mom

“Our mission is to connect and empower professional moms to thrive in every aspect of their careers, family, and personal lives.”

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Work It Mom is the place to be for professional women with children looking for advice, inspiration or guidance in every aspect of their lives. Work It Mom has an “everything-and-the-kitchen-sink” approach to their website, providing its users with tons of options for how users best want to manage the site. Users can talk in the forums, publish articles on personal experiences, use the site as a social network by establishing “Groups” and publicize interesting links via Digg-like methods.

The most widely used tool appears to be the forums, where members often request advice and solicit opinions from other women who are in the same boat. Work It Mom provides a “Group” feature, in which members can create social groups around specific topics such as a physical location or more interesting and relevant subjects such as “flexperience”.

Overall, Work It Mom fills a very specific niche, and does so by employing many community-oriented tools to foster relationships between established members, and to attract new ones. It’ll be interesting to watch its growth; while we don’t detect any political aspirations, the age and income level of the user base it attracts could grow into some pretty powerful political lobbying for family-oriented laws such as maternity leave, parental rights, etc.

The one criticism we do have is also its strength – the “everything-and-the-kitchen-sink” approach to site design. While the site does boast many attractive features – from the community forums, to the blog, to personal interviews with professional women, we don’t feel it’s absolutely necessary to repeat that information on every single section of the site you visit, especially when there is already section bars at the top of the site. It makes for a very cluttered experience, but we doubt that will seriously turn off any women want a place to go to share their experiences with others in similar situations.

Maya’s Mom

“The long and short of it is that Maya’s Mom was inspired by real parents. The best things we’ve learned about parenting come from other parents’ experience, so we figured we’d create a place to find, share and save this information.”

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Maya’s Mom is a parenting site that is focused on providing information that comes from parents’ own personal experiences. It’s a great site to visit if you are a new parent and don’t have a clue about your baby’s diaper rash, whether you should worry about that bump on the head, or just interested in making friends with other parents. With a very simple, eye-pleasing web design, and attractive features and clearly defined community rules, Maya’s Mom is an attractive choice for parents of all stripes. Maya’s Mom has, in addition to the now standard features such as “friends”, “journals”, “photos”, and “tags”, and “group”, in which members can pose questions asking for advice, or just thoughts on a particular topic.

Maya’s Mom, with its clean and cheerful interface, and growing community makes it a very friendly and fun destination for parents of all types. Its strength is in its community and its strong privacy features; users do not have to share information they don’t want others to see, and people can click on a “love it” icon to vote on a particular person’s profile. Although the site is for parents of all genders, the majority do appear to be women. Perhaps they will attract more dads as the site grows.

Operation Mom

Have fun meeting moms, finding great ideas and getting organized!

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OpMom is a social networking site for mothers focused on gathering their own expert advice, schedule events with other moms, manage the family’s events, appointments, and even medical records. The site is very user-friendly, works with a number of browsers, including Firefox and Flock. It has firm privacy protections in place, so moms can avoid worrying about potential problems with identity theft. Its Family Health records feature, which allow mothers to store and manage their own and their family health records and medical appointments differentiates the site the most from other parenting social networks. As parents are asked to manage more and more of their own health care by insurance companies, personal medical records management is essential.

The Motherhood

A neighborhood like no other.

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The Motherhood is a beautifully designed website for moms to connect, share, talk, and create. It’s still in beta, but don’t let that stop you from joining in the fun. The site differentiates itself from other similar mom-oriented sites by itself as a safe space for moms to interact and discuss; the core features of the site include the Link List, Conversations, Blog Ticker and Groups. The Link List is a Digg-like feature, showing the most popular stories of the day. Conversations is an active forum, and the Blog Ticker features various blog entries from mommy bloggers in and out of The Motherhood, which is one of the most attractive features for us. As much as we like to highlight sites that give you privacy protections and create your own blogs within a network, we think it’s valuable to connect with others not just on your own network. There’s a whole other world out there, and we’re glad The Motherhood is bringing the outside in to its members. The Groups features is also nicely designed, allowing members to create different groups based on interest. Creators can specify topic, and establish their own mini-Motherhood – the same core features that form the overall Motherhood are in the Groups features as well, with the ability to turn them on or off and establish their own group rules. We’ve seen topics ranging from what to make for dinner to discussions of feminist theory. Although other sites have the ability to create Groups, we’ve rarely seen them done so well, with the specific aim to communicate and discuss an interest, rather than just declaring oneself a member. We look forward to more great features and enhancements from The Motherhood.

Sites for Dads

Dad Daily

A space for dads

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Dad Daily bills itself as the “only social network for dads”. It’s not entirely accurate, as new sites are popping up all the time. We did, however, have a difficult time finding sites that directly appeal to dads, and many of the parenting sites listed above that ostensibly are for both moms and dads, have a very feminine feel to their sites. Dad Daily’s site is powered by Ning, the social network creation machine. Dad Daily looks a lot like Myspace; members share photos, videos, participate in forums, groups, and add friends. It has all the standard features of a community site – but very few additional enhancements that might assist in managing a dad’s life.

Dad Stays Home

Welcome to Dadstayshome.com experiment in social networking for stay at home dads.

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Dad Stays Home is a Digg-like site for stay-at-home dads. It is powered by Pligg, an open-source content-management system. It fulfills a very specific niche, and in addition to the main site, there is a separate forum that allows these stay-at-home dads to share stories, advice, and horror stories. While the community is small, it is definitely growing, and serves a very needed function. It’s different enough from Digg that the stories that appear at the top aren’t about technology, games, or politics. Instead, many of the links are about family life, reflections, and kids.

At Home Dad

The Stay At Home Dad Oasis – Resources, Information, Connections, and Community for involved dads.

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At Home Dad is another resource for stay-at-home dads. Users can seek advice, share stories, photos, answer polls, and more. It is a very thorough and comprehensive site, providing great information and strong community features for a sometimes lonely occupation. A new feature allows dads to network locally and offline – they create groups based on their location, and share information within the groups. Again, the site is small, but growing, and contributes to a very important segment of the parenting population.

Sites for Families

Parentography

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Parentography is an indispensable resource for parents who need to know about certain things when they take their children places. Will the restaurant make a fuss if your baby starts to cry in the middle of a meal? Is there a changing station at the bathroom? Does the park provide any cool activities that you can take advantage of? Parentography is a social network for parents who review and give advice about going out with kids, and in our book it’s an essential resource, in a world that seems all too kid-unfriendly. Parents can add reviews, provide tips, post pictures of the sites they’ve been to, and tell the site whether a particular review was useful or not. In addition to reviews (which are limited to sites), parents can also post “excursions”, which can be anything ranging from advice on planning a weeklong vacation to making a weekly pit stop after a practice or lesson.

Kincafe

Kincafe is all about connecting, bonding and cherishing loved ones – the ones you grew up with, the ones you care for at the center of your heart. We bring you latest updates from your family and friends to you.

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Kincafe is a social network site that uses the family as a base for the users to share photos, calendars, event reminders, and to create blogs and announcements to share with family and friends. There are comprehensive privacy options – you can opt to share with families only, family and friends only, or friends and friends of relatives, etc. Overall, this is a great way for families to share their lives with each other, and to communicate with others. The one thing we didn’t like about the family tree structure was that it’s a bit awkward and complicated to modify your network in the case of mixed families – for example, adding a new spouse; there’s also no indicator for “divorced”.

Cozi Central

Cozi Central is designed for busy families who are juggling work and school activities, schedules, shopping, household chores and all the other things that busy families do.

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Cozi is a family management system. It is not a social networking site; you don’t add friends or create groups, but you can manage your entire family’s business from one spot. Features include a personalized home page, a calendar that can be synced with MS Outlook, shopping lists, messages that can be texted or emailed to people in your family, and a photo collage tool that can be utilized as a screensaver. Cozi has a lot going for it – it’s user-friendly, looks good, and has some great features. However, we’d love to see more coming out of Cozi in the future.

Families

Families.com is a rich community of family-minded participants.

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Families is one of the most exhaustive resources we’ve seen for families. It is also a social network – you can create your own journal, share photos and journal entries with families and/or friends, and talk on the forums. You can also use the site as a resource for deals, coupons, and recipes. One of the fun features includes the ability to create “tickers” and “counters” – little web applets that tell the world when your baby is due, when someone’s birthday is coming up, etc. It is a very useful site if you can get your whole family to use it; if not, it’s still useful on its own as a site to express your views and do research. We are not enamored of the site’s design, which is so cluttered that we got lost in it, but we have to admit that it’s definitely doing its job.

KidConfidence

We help non-gamer parents find the right video games for their children – games that are both fun and have learning value.

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KidConfidence addresses one of the more annoying aspects of parenting – navigating the very subjective, and very frustrating world of picking out games for your kids. How do you know if the rating on the box means that it’s still age-appropriate for your child? How do you know, aside from the rating, if it’s going to be fun for your child and for you? Will it be educational? Video game reviews often focus on grown-up games without considering parents who have younger children. This is where KidConfidence steps in. You don’t actually have to join to take full advantage of the site itself. From the site, as an unregistered user, you can watch video reviews, add comments, read or bookmark reviews spotlighted by KidConfidence and buy or rent from the links or select one of the ratings – Buy, Rent, or Avoid. As a registered user, you will be able to post reviews of games, add various pieces of information in your profile, and participate in the forums. We love the idea of the site, but feel that the execution falls a little short. Although we clicked on the “Reviews” link for one of the games that indicated 21 reviews, we only saw two “Spotlighted” reviews. In our account, we attempted to click on a number of tags, but were inevitably led to a 404 error page. We hope that KidConfidence will figure out those issues; we still find it a useful resource for parents who have gamer-inclined kids.

We know what you’re thinking. What about stuff for the kids? Well, keep an eye on eHub for an upcoming feature.

Got any other great sites we’ve missed? We’d love to check them out so just share a link in the comments and we’ll follow along.

Comment(s)

  1. Steve de Brun on August 16, 2007 at 10:25 AM:
    This is another site that provides national preschool reviews, books, activities, educational toy reviews, etc: The Savvy Source.
  2. B Smith on August 16, 2007 at 04:16 PM:
    Famundo for Families (http://www.famundo.com) offers a much better option for family management with a lot of features, better security and and a close integration with the Famundo for Organizations product (one family can subscribe to the school, church, soccer calendars) and it’s FREE.
  3. Anwen on August 17, 2007 at 07:20 AM:
    TownConnect is another new site that is offers family management meets Facebook.  A complete social network for your town with integrated groups, schools and classes.
  4. Nataly on August 17, 2007 at 07:22 AM:
    Thanks so much for including Work It, Mom! (And Vero, we’re lucky to have you as part of our growing community.) Emily, I’ve been reading eHub for a long time, when I was still in venture capital – I would check it daily to see what new startups I should be looking at.

    All the best,
    Nataly
    CEO of Work It, Mom!

  5. Ann Crady on August 17, 2007 at 04:27 PM:
    Thanks for including Maya’s Mom.  We’re proud to be part of a great group of sites for moms, dads and families.
  6. Emily McKhann on August 22, 2007 at 10:07 AM:
    Emily, Kim and Veronique, We are thrilled the Motherhood is included in your wonderful review!!!!!!  You understand our site completely, and as you said, we soon will be layering in new features that we’re really excited about.  Please visit often and make yourself right at home!  eHub is such an important voice in the 2.0 world and the fact that you “got” the spirit of the Motherhood means so much to us.  Thank you.
  7. Dave on August 26, 2007 at 02:39 AM:
    Another option to build your family tree and stay in touch through a private family network is http://www.genoom.com
  8. Rich on August 29, 2007 at 12:41 PM:
    Absent nap times and after the children go to bed I don’t know where parents and certainly stay at home moms get the time to do all this social networking.  I think quick in-and-out experiences are more the order of the day.
  9. Amy on January 21, 2008 at 07:56 PM:
    How about http://www.baby-how.com for techy momma’s?
  10. Nancy on March 11, 2008 at 07:55 PM:
    Classy Mommmy (http://www.classymommy.com) has a cool ajax product finder with faceted navigation along with video product reviews. Pretty Web 2.0