Designing for the Social Web

The Cliff Notes Version

These notes came from Joshua Porter’s book Designing for the Social Web.  This is an excellent book and I highly recommend it for people designing software to be used by anyone, not just web software.  These notes will probably have a bias towards Kablink but I think I summarize all the major points of the book.

In essence Joshua advocates finding the objects you collaborate around and the functions that support that collaboration.  Everything else will fall into place if you focus on those two important concepts.

Notes

  • What are the major actions and desired social interactions that group software should support or enable?
    • Allow users to form into groups based around a common goal
    • Provide tools that allow relationships between users and groups having a common set of goals to be created and maintained
    • Enable information relevant to a user or group’s goal to be documented and discovered
  • With a wealth of information comes a scarcity of attention. Teaming should support allocating attention to the most relevant information
  • Social Behavior
    • When uncertain, people rely on social connections to help them out
    • People we know greatly influence our behavior
  • Relevance + Trust = Attention
  • “A wealth of information creates a poverty of attention and a need to allocate that attention efficiently among the overabundance of information sources that might consume it.”
  • “If there is one diseach that affects nearly all projects, it’s feature creep. In is the deadly affliction in which design teams gradually add feature after feature until they ultimately overload the interface.”
  • To prevent feature creep the following questions must be answered clearly
    • What is the primary activity our software supports?
    • What features do we need to effectively support that activity?
    • And, most importantly, what features can we leave out?
    • Will this feature support our overall strategy?
  • Personal Value precedes Network Value -> Successful software always begins by providing personal value to the individual
  • The applications people find most compelling allow them to excel at a single activity
  • “If you want to build a ship, don’t drum up the men to gather wood, divide the work and give orders. Instead, teach them to yearn for the vast and endless sea” –Antoine de Saint-Exupery
  • AOF Method
    • Focus on the primary Activity (ie. What is your audience doing?)
      • What do people have to do to be successful?
      • Activities allows us to discover the steps people take toward reaching their goals
      • Many activities are about managing information
      • Methods to identify
        • Interviews
        • Usability Testing
        • On-site Observation
        • LISTENING
    • Identify you social Objects (ie. What objects do users interact with while doing the primary Activity?)
      • Too much activity is focused on networking and not the social objects that connect us together
      • Give the social objects a URL
      • Why URLs?
        • make objects sharable
        • make objects easier to find
        • allow people to link to the object directly
        • search engines like URLs
    • Choose your core Feature set (ie. From Activity and Objects derive your core feature set, answerting the question? What are the actions people perform on the Objects? and which are important enough to support?)
      • Find your Objects verbs
        • Example:
          • Articles (read, archive for later, quote, link to, share, comment, annotate, etc)
          • Photols (store, view, favorite, edit, link to, print, share, comment, embed, tag, etc)
      • Verbs will be both personal and social.
      • “Innovation is not about saying ‘yes’ to everything. It’s about saying ‘NO’ to all by the most crucial features” — Steve Jobs
  • Get People Started
    • Getting Started Framework (What your marketing should say)
      • What is it for? Who is going to use it?
      • What is it? What does it do? What are its capabilities?
      • Where can I use it? Is there a mobile version?
      • When can I use it?
      • Why is it important to me? Why will my life be better because of it?
      • How does it work? How can I take advantage?
    • A complicated interface suggests a complicated service
    • Use simple images and steps to get people going quickly
      • 1. Create your profile
      • 2. Check your email
      • 3. Find your friends
    • Give people examples of how they can use your service to get them thinking about how they can benefit
    • Use a form of reciprocity to encourage others to get started.
      • Most users who have someone Recommend them on LinkedIn return the favor
  • Ongoing Participation
    • Identify the right motivations for use. Understand why people want to participate.
    • Design the interface to support and encourage those motivations
    • Make sure user’s have an identity and can find and relate to other users
      • Emphasis a person’s uniqueness
      • Leverage reciprocity (”its your turn to give your opinion?”)
      • Allow for reputation and trust
    • Promote Efficacy -> Let users know how they are effecting others
    • Show desired behavior -> Users who are actively involved should be promoted so that other’s can see desired behavior
    • Feedback -> can be used to promote the right kind of material (Digg, Reddit, etc)
  • Design for Sharing
    • URLs (see above)
    • Keep the call to action (share, comment, etc) very close to the content
    • Should be displayed at the top and bottom of the content (if appropriate)
      • Suggested locations where to the right of the content OR
      • Beneath the Title and author information
    • Keep it crazy simple (do not ask for anything that is not absolutely necessary)
    • Create programs that allow users to invite their friends, associates, or partners
      • Simple invitations
      • Affiliate programs
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