Social Design Strategies

Loose notes from SXSW 2008 panel discussion “Social Design Strategies” with:

Daniel Burka Creative Dir, Digg/Pownce
Emily Chang Co-founder, Ideacodes
Max Kiesler Co-founder, Ideacodes
Joshua Porter Founder, Bokardo Design

Reciprocity – on LinkedIn, when someone gives someone else a recommendation, the chance of the person returning the favor is insanely high.

Group usability – how useful is the site to the group, rather than to the person? On Digg, this level is huge (needs of group put before needs of individuals). People encountering their “Wall” on Facebook for the first time sometimes treat it like an inbox and delete the messages after reading them, not getting that it’s a social feature, not a personal feature. “Get Satisfaction” has no concept of private messaging – everything is social. There’s a spectrum between public and private features – Facebook falls in the middle of that. But when you mix public and private features, you need to be careful… be explicit so it’s clear to users what’s public and what’s private.

Most SNs let you see all of someone else’s friends, which is very different from the real world. I would never ask for your address book so I can comb through it, but this is the norm on SNs. It’s extremely useful for building networks and finding connections, but takes getting used to compared to the real world. On Digg, virtually everything is public information – click “who dugg this?” and you can get info on every single voter (you can’t vote on something in a non-public way.)

When in doubt over whether to do a certain feature, be wary of the “Let’s just make it a preference” approach. Instead, be solid on your feature set, have a philosophy. Too many options scare people away. Most people won’t understand their options and will make mistakes. Take things away before you add them. Feature creep is real (and is a real problem).

BuddyPress – as WP moves into public functionality, you get into the kitchen sink problem that Drupal has. It needs to be wary of this.

Clarity is at the public/private poles , otherwise prepare.
Be nuanced. Be sensitive.
Give control to the user, but not as a crutch (not to the detriment of usability).

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