BOOK: Designing for the Social Web by Joshua Porter 05

Korean version of Designing for a Social Web
Korean version of Designing for a Social Web

I have been posting selected excerpts from the book “Designing for a Social Web” by Joshua Porter. Translating back from the Korean version of the book, I just want to tell the readers that the serial posts of the excerpts is not authorized by the owner of book. I just wanted to share the excerpts so useful to my own projects, and thought the imperfect translation from Korean version back to English may be acceptable.

Following excerpts are not as structured as a serious composition should be, merely combining the selected sentences I took from the book and translated back to English.

<< Previous Chapter 4: Bringing people to sign up

Selected excerpts from Chapter 5: Keeping the users constantly satisfied

The real difficulty in running the web service is to find the way to bring people to use it constantly. The first impression which led to have loving relationship quickly fades. The answer is in motivating the users.
Keep paying attention to the users, and it will be rewarded with more ads and sponsors. Remember that these are the effect of the successfully running the service, not the necessities.

  1. Understand why people wanted to sign up and use the service
  2. Build the right interface which can motivate the users to keep using the service

Why people sign up?

Most people use the web service for simple reason. For example, the users of Amazon give and get helps from one another through reviews (reciprocity). They simply wanted to return the favors. They believe that sharing their experiences can help the other to make sound judgment.
Designing a social web service is not about economical problem, but about social capital problem. This is the list of things related to the social capital to be used in building the right interface:

  • identity
  • uniqueness
  • reciprocity
  • reputation
  • sense of efficiency
  • control
  • ownership
  • attachment to a group
  • fun

Manage identities

We have rights to present our identities freely in online environment. Online anonymity is also about managing identities. If the power and the importance of identities is neglected or denied, these problems may occur:

  • Spamming meaningless messages to the mass
  • Abusing the service, or using the service not as what the developers intended it to used
  • Inappropriate use of commenting
  • Pretending to be someone else, deceiving others

Usually, lack of clear identities cause and condone bad behaviors. There will be no way to describe one’s action and to ask for responsibilities or reward the right behaviors if the identities are not known.
Depending on how the service manages the identity, the minimum requirement like using a nickname will be sufficient enough to prevent some abuses.
Profile page is closely related the concept and the value of the web service. Each different web service displays the user profile differently.
The content must dynamically updated and displayed to the users. These are the updating mechanisms:

  • Lifestreaming. Showing the latest activities from every source.
  • Commenting Wall
  • Notification

Be aware of the problem of social network being deteriorated caused by lack of interesting activities beyond signing up and updating profiles.

Emphasize individual uniqueness

The web service should know: What’s it that only this person can do and no one else? What makes each user unique to one another?
For example, Netflix recommends movies based on the reviews the user has been made. The good service recognizes and responds to the uniqueness of the user. There are many ways to respect and encourage the users to express his or her uniqueness:

  • Display special copies about certain activities which require participation
  • Emphasize that the user can make positive contribution
  • Bring out the benefit of his or her unique contribution
  • Keep reminding him or her how unique he or she is
  • Develop the unique contribution into the meaningful perspective or element used in the service
  • Display the page which shows the differences between the contribution of the user to that of others

Maximize reciprocity

Reciprocity is about exchanging what the users gained from one another. People do have tendency to make contribution as a response to the favors they received from the other users met while using the web service. Being able to give is another form of having respectful authority.

Empower reputation

Reputation is built around the opinions of others so have strong objectiveness. The good web service has the clear system of managing and measuring one’s reputation. These are the example criteria:

  • The number for friends or fans
  • The number of posts
  • The ranks of these posts
  • The number of comments and their qualities
  • The number of posts recommended by others
  • The number of first submissions
  • The length of being an active user

The reputation plays the important role in collaboration, and the result of collaboration affects the reputation. The three conditions for collaboration to occur according to Robert Axelrod in “The Evolution of Cooperation” are:

  1. Possibility to meet again in the future. Staying as the users in the same service increases the possibility.
  2. Ability to know about one another. Knowing the reputation alone is strong enough to decide whether to collaborate of not.
  3. History of past activities of the users. The best way to judging the reputation is examining the user from the past records.

Promote usefulness

Usefulness can be defined as what benefits the users can obtain from the values of themselves using the web service. Rewarding properly to what the users contributed is how the web service becomes useful to the users.

Allow the power to control

The users often demand the power to control their own contents, whether it’s actually practiced or not. It’s important to the users to have the secure means to control the web service even if they will never use it.

Give ownerships

Let the users feel that this web service is specifically built for them, using the contents of them, and managed by them. Assure the users that it’s meaningful to use the web service. These are the effects of giving ownerships to the users:

  • Adorn the contents to be more than what they seem to be
  • When the contents are published, the owner takes more responsibilities, by taking care of them to have more values
  • Some responsibilities to manage the contents are delegated to the owners, easing the burden of the web service
  • The perception about the web site becomes more friendly

However, don’t let this ownership invade the ownerships or the user experiences of the others.

Provide model behaviors

For promoting the right ways to use the web service, the model behaviors of certain group of users can be used.

Develop attachment to the web service

The love for interacting as a group is one of main reasons why people use Internet. Most of the famous websites are for supporting group activities. Community is the very essence of social web service. People becomes the users of the service not only because it’s useful, but also it’s fun.
According to Kathy Sierra, if the web service can help the users to know more about their worlds, and to believe that the web service is exactly what they needed, they can see about themselves under the brighter lights. In other words, they will find themselves to become better than before, strongly motivated.
To receive passion from the users, the designer and developer must give passion to them first.

Next Chapter 6: Building collective intelligence >>

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