Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Web 2.0 Expo: Designing Social Websites

I attended two workshops at today's Web 2.0 Expo: Designing Social Interfaces: Principles, Best Practices and Patterns for Designing the Social Web and Designing Social Websites.

The first presentation was more of an read out on the analysis of different social features popular on sites like FaceBook, LinkedIn, Flickr and others. I wish they would have done more of an analysis of which ones actually work, what makes them work and who they work on. Anyhow, the slides are still interesting and can be viewed here.

For me the more interesting presentation was from Christina Wodtke. I've embedded her slides below and here are some of my key takeaways:

"Behavior is a function of a person and his/her environment," this is Christina's theory to social sites. Environment is half the equation and something we can control. Christina shared an interesting analogy that you can follow the same process to designing the architecture of a building as you would a website. For example when you build a wide and open staircase it becomes a natural place for people to take a seat and socialize (for more on this check out A Pattern Language).

Christina identifies 4 motivations for contribution:
  1. Reciprocity - an example is LinkedIn endorsements, people who ask for endorsements are likely to give an endorsement back. Another example is when fund raising groups send you mailing labels as a gift, by doing so people are more likely to return the favor by opening their wallets.
  2. Reputation - Cisco's NetPro discussion forum do a good job of this by through a point system.
  3. Increased Need of Efficacy - The reason people use sites like Digg is because it's an effective way to obtain information they have something to gain.
  4. Attachment to and Need of a Group - This goes back to Maslow's hierarchy of needs, people want to have a sense of belonging. Then when they build their reputation it increases their self esteem.
Anyone who's building a social website should learn more about the Ross Mayfield's Power Law of Participation where a ' low threshold participation amounts to high engagement'. Then follow the AOF method:
  1. Define your activity (ie. what are your users doing? what do they have to do for you to be successful)
  2. Identify social objects (ie. videos for Netflix, photos for Flickr)
  3. Choose your features (ie. sharing, tagging, advice)
(Note: this is an older version of the deck she shared at the Web 2.0 Expo, the slides are almost identical, when/if she updates SlideShare, I'll update the embed.)


xian said...

Thanks for the comments on our workshop. We love what Christina is doing (and she has contributed ideas to our pattern collection).

In the full text versions of our patterns we do devote a lot of attention to what works and what doesn't, when to use various patterns, and why.

It's hard to figure how deep to go and how broad to go in these presentations and we're still figuring out, given we have such a large unwieldy catalogue to explain to people, so your feedback is really helpful, thanks again!

~christina said...

HI! I really appreciate the kind words about my presentation. it's a grand adventure to understand social sites and I appreciate the thoughts of everyone who's on that journey too!
I just wanted to let you know you have embedded the wrong presentation... this is a talk at stanford I gave on working with designers. :) people can follow it to slideshare to see the right one, though.

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