PaGaLGuY reinvents MBA networking

Pagalguy

PaGaLGuY.com has been the undisputed heavyweight champion among Indian MBA portals. In fact, the number of (close to 600,000) registered users on the site could give many of the leading international MBA forums and portals a run for their money. It’s probably the only MBA portal that can proudly talk about a dedicated case study by an IIM (Indian Institute of Management Bangalore). According to some estimates it attracts the lion’s share of all MBA related queries in India. It’s achieved all this in 10 years.

But despite the traffic volumes and the humongous amount of content it offers (roughly 3.5 million posts for local and international test prep like CAT / GMAT, business schools, careers and everything else under the sun that might be related), it has retained the desi flavour that attracts a fiercely loyal community of MBA aspirants, alumni and experts.

More than enough for anyone to rest on their laurels and take a breather after having completed a dream run in less than a decade, right? The pagal (crazy) guys at PaGaLGuY didn’t think so. They’ve been burning the midnight oil for over 2 years to work on an ambitious project, pushing the boundaries of how conventional MBA portals are supposed to function.

On 9th July 2012, PaGaLGuY unveiled its new sleek and dramatically different look. But the real change was deeper. MBA Crystal Ball gives you a short summary of what has changed and why. But in order to really understand and appreciate the individual features, it helps to understand the basic context – the (ready for a big buzzword?) paradigm shifts in Philosophy and Technology – that influenced the changes.

Philosophy

The big shift in the new PaGaLGuY architecture is that the whole focus has moved from ‘Topics’ to ‘People’.

MBA Crystal Ball lacks Astha channel’s expertise to dole out complex philosophy, so we’ll stick to stuff that’s easier to relate to.

Earlier, topic specific threads were the watering hole where folks came to quench their thirst. So if you liked 10 different topics, you’d visit 10 different threads. In the new Pagalguy avatar, you don’t need to visit 10 different watering holes. Instead, a sophisticated plumbing system gets you all the updates now. All you need to do is to turn on (or off) the tap.

Technology

When Pagalguy was launched in 2002, ‘social networking’ was an unheard term, well at least outside kitty parties. Discussion forums and blogs ruled the roost. Free forum software templates made it easy to quickly install and start running a new discussion forum. The core software for forums stayed pretty much the same for a long time with only incremental changes in the newer versions. Ditto for blogs.

Facebook and Twitter changed the way people communicated and shared information. But forum software continued to ignore that trend. This created the awkward situation where 2 generations of technologies coexisted for no other reason, but for the lack of better options.

The new Pagalguy architecture meshes the people centric approach of social media platforms with the power of forums and blogs to be repositories of large amounts of data. Unfortunately, there were no ready made products that came close to accomplish what PaGaLGuY wanted. So Allwin Agnel (founder, PaGaLGuY) & Co did the next best thing. They built it in-house, from scratch (which explains why it took 2 years). Not so elementary, Dr Watson!

Important Features

– Completely re-designed user interface: It might remind you of Facebook, but it’s much more than that. The colors, the layout, the number of links you can access, the amount of information showed on the screen – it’s all changed, for the better.

– The navigation has been made less complex. There are fewer tabs and menu options compared to the earlier site. A ‘Live Feed’ (similar to the Facebook Wall) collates all that you are interested in one place.

– The news and analysis section is a tab now (rather than the first thing you see).

– Forums have been rejigged. In each thread, the first post will always be ‘sticky’. You can mention other users in your comments and they’ll get a notification.

– Advertisements might become a little more conspicuous across the site now (something to make the advertisers happy).

– Follow and Unfollow options (for people and threads) facilitate the networking. ‘Thank you’ option has been replaced by ‘Likes’. The ‘Groan’ feature has been taken out. You can ‘Share’ posts with those connected to you.

– There are many other cosmetic and functional features that would be difficult to cover (confession: key reason being we have no idea about those too)

The die-hard fans of the earlier interface might find it a little unintuitive at first, mainly due to the magnitude of changes rather than usability or utility. But it should be a matter of time before puys (pagalguys, as users are known on the forum) get back to business as usual and start focussing on what the platform has been best known for.

Apurv Pandit (Chief Editor, Pagalguy) summarises it well by saying – it’s a transition from being a ‘forum about MBA and b-school discussions‘ to a ‘network of people associated with MBA and b-schools‘.

Rather than trying to visualise what all this means, a better option would be to try it out yourself. If you have visited the site recently, go ahead and check out the new, improved PaGaLGuY.


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Sameer Kamat //
Sameer Kamat
Founder of MBA Crystal Ball. Author of Beyond The MBA Hype & Business Doctors. Here's more about me. Connect with me on Google+ | Twitter | Facebook | Linkedin

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