Collab Finder is a social networking website which allows you to find skilled people you can work with on website or software projects. Each user has a detailed profile which includes information on their skills, where they are based and links to examples of their work. The idea is to allow people to find collaborators for projects they are working on so they can enlist the help they need. It is not intended as an employment service and the agreements people reach on how they will work on projects and what recompense (if any) they will get for their efforts are left entirely up to the individuals concerned.
Layout (4 out of 5)
Collab Finder is a simple website with a number of links along the top of the homepage. Sections are split into Search, Map, Message Board, Browse Designers, Browse Developers and a Log In for people to edit their profiles and send messages to each other. There is also a news feed which announces newly released projects or news about what people are working on. The simple uncluttered layout is ideal for the purpose with an obvious focus on efficiency and ease of use.
Usability (4 out of 5)
The search function allows you to look for potential collaborators, you can choose to search for designers or developers or a mixture of both, enter the desired skills you’d like them to have, enter the location you’d prefer and you can also use the rating system which is built into the website to see how their projects have been received.
The map gives you a visual layout of where developers and designers are based using Google Maps so you can search easily by location to find collaborators near you. The Message Board includes website announcements, feature requests and discussions for improving the system, questions for designers and developers and a number of ideas for projects which are posted by users seeking collaborators or advice. You also have the option to browse the profiles of the existing designers and developers and you can order these to view the newest additions to the site or by their ranking, which is based on the popularity of their example links.
In addition each member of the website can set their availability, if the Send Message link appears on their profile then they are available to contact, otherwise it will say they are busy. You can follow individuals and you will receive an alert when they release new projects or become available for work. Finally they can post messages about what collaborators they are seeking which also appear on their individual profiles.
The system is easy to use, it is free to post a profile and it could be a very useful resource for people seeking collaborators for a wide range of projects.
Profiles (3 out of 5)
Filling out your profile is a quick and easy process, simply enter your name, nearest major city, main skills, personal website, links to projects you have worked on in the past, your current status and your own rating. You can also add a photo if you so desire though many people just use avatars.
The profiles aren’t particularly detailed but there is enough to be able to get a flavour of people’s skills and the search functionality is good so you should be able to find someone with the right mix of skills.
The developers police the website but there is nothing really stopping people from misrepresenting themselves and their skills although they are likely to be found out. The rating system is also not perfect and you can rate your own level of skill to begin with and then your rating is calculated based on the popularity of your provided example links which is done using a set of web tools. It is impossible to know for sure what individual developers or designers actually did on each project without asking them and then you have to take their word for it. The website is also fairly small at the moment so there is a limited pool of potential collaborators.
Overall (4 out of 5)
Collab Finder is a great idea and anyone who has spent hours trawling forums trying to find a like minded individual with the right skills to join them on a new project will know it can be a hard slog. Collab Finder has the potential to take the pain out of this process and as it grows it will become an increasingly valuable resource.