My 72-year-old mother recently joined Facebook. Not because she wants to start liking GIFs—because she was annoyed that she was missing out on all the pictures of my kids I posted there and which younger members of my extended family were effortlessly enjoying. I applaud my mom's willingness to bite the social-media bullet in order to see more of her grandchildren, but there must be an easier way.
Enter Kidpost, a side project by a former Times design director (and current VP of user experience at Wildcard) Khoi Vinh. Kidpost does one simple thing: It scans your Instagram and Facebook feeds for any images tagged #kidpost, and packages them into an email message that gets sent to your old-school email-using family members.
"It seemed like something that should be out there, in the world, ready to use. Email is the common denominator that works for everyone. And yet when I looked around it wasn't there," Vinh tells Co.Design. He had his own troubles doing "baby picture tech support" for relatives, and in January of 2014 he decided he and two friends (Matt Jacobs and Mike Dirolf) could gin up a solution in their spare time. A few months later, Kidpost was born.
True to its "keep it simple, stupid" origins, Kidpost doesn't have a whiz-bang interface design. It's basically a logo and some blank forms (albeit nicely laid out—Vinh is a designer, after all). But that's all it needed to be. "The fun part of the product should be the stuff that comes through in Kidpost's daily emails; the rest of it should be almost invisible," Vinh says.
The one geeky aspect of Kidpost—the #kidpost hashtag operator that flags images—seems to stick out like a sore thumb, but Vinh says that it's just another way to streamline the service. After all, it's not the users of Kidpost that have usability challenges—the recipients are the ones drawing a blank. "The only people who have to use the hashtag are the people who set up the Kidpost account," Vinh explains. "These will be parents of young kids who, if they're in their 20s, 30s or 40s, can generally handle adding a hashtag to their photos." There's no extra software to install. The genius of Kidpost is that with a simple login and a string of text, it uses platforms that are already knitted into people's lives: social networks and email addresses. (Of course the #kidpost hashtag is a secondary advertisement for the service, because it's visible to everyone in your Facebook or Instagram feeds.)
Vinh plans to charge a nominal fee for the service after Kidpost concludes its public beta, and his team plans to eventually integrate it with Twitter, Flickr, Vine, and Dropbox. But Vinh isn't in a rush. "Kidpost is not the biggest product in the world, and that suits us just fine—we don't need to turn it into a massive operation that requires huge investments of time and money in order to build something amazing that our users love," he says.
I just wish he'd launched it earlier, so my poor mother could have stayed out of Mark Zuckerberg's clutches.