Designing for concentric circles of adoption

Water drops by Fabio Prati
Photo © copyright Fabio Prati.

My PiC has yet another great post on identifying who you should be “targeting” when you’re building a startup, product, community or all three.

The Pinko approach demands that you become a member of your community to truly understand their needs and the world from their perspective. In fact, this is the only way for you to really be able to genuinely respond to their feedback and criticism, otherwise you’re always approximating what presume they’re saying…

When I was at and planning out our adoption strategy, I followed very similar principles (though I didn’t have a catchy framework like “Pinko” at the time). By seeing the existing community as made up of concentric circles of enthusiastics and early adopters, my goal was to create a black hole suction of sorts deeper into the inner core community:
Mozilla Universe v1

My theory was that the more folks we could bring into the inner rings of the Mozilla community, the more devoted they’d become and the lower the incremental effort we’d need to exert to pull in more outliers, like their friends, coworkers and family members.

Tara’s argument very much mirrors this approach. By focusing your effort and outreach on a core constituency, just like in a presidential campaign (read: ), you’ll be enticing folks with a truly valuable service that those same folks can then turn around and preach about with more convincing passion, integrity and self-interest than you could… the very reason that the Spread Firefox campaign was so successful; it relied on concentric circles of true-believers to spread the word. For its part it only had to focus on continuing to build a great product and delivery community infrastructure to support its core constituency.

So when it comes to community barn-raising and product development, keeping your design and development efforts geared to a tightly knit core of enthusiasts is the best way to create the first drop that will ripple out to the wider audiences that your VCs are constantly (and damagingly) telling you to go after. There’s simply no better way to effectively and organically build out to a wider audience than taking the concentric circles approach.

Author: Chris Messina

Head of West Coast Business Development at Republic. Ever-curious product designer and technologist. Hashtag inventor. Previously: (YC W18), Uber, Google.

2 thoughts on “Designing for concentric circles of adoption”

  1. Love the post and the prelude to it the other day! Great way to explain the “ripple effect” along with the idea of growing organically by focusing on a specific group of people. I think that by explaining things in these types of posts more people will begin to understand and realize the potential of the pinko approach. Keep it up!

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