UIEtips Article: Why Invest in Social Features for Your Web Site?

Jared Spool

May 8th, 2007

UIEtips 5/08/07: Why Invest in Social Features for Your Web Site?

In just the past couple of years, we’ve seen more and more designs that allow users to collaborate and share what they’re doing with others. Web sites and applications such as MySpace, Flickr, and Craigslist, are becoming increasingly popular.

One of the underlying reasons for their popularity is because they all focus on Social Design, an area of design that deals with the activities, behaviors, and motivations of people who work and play together through software interfaces. Each of these social applications connect users in new and exciting ways.

In this week’s UIEtips, we’ve republished Joshua Porter’s recent Brain Sparks blog post discussing how organizations can benefit from incorporating social features into their designs. I’ve decided to share the post with all of our UIEtips readers because I think Josh’s commentary on the importance of Social Design is just too important to miss.

As always, please share your thoughts with us. Have you ever wondered why sites such as MySpace and Flickr are so popular? Have you considered incorporating social features into your design? Leave your thoughts and join the discussion below.

Read today’s UIEtips article.

[If you find this article interesting, you’ll definitely want to attend the User Interface 12 Conference this November 5-8, where Joshua Porter will present at UIE’s Showcase Seminar, Usability 2007: The Latest Perspectives. In this seminar, Josh will share his latest research on Social Design practices.]

2 Responses to “UIEtips Article: Why Invest in Social Features for Your Web Site?”

  1. Paula Thornton Says:

    Joshua spoke of data-driven design, I call it fact-based or evidence-based design. Forrester recently suggested reasons for why requirements continue to fail (http://www.forrester.com/Research/Document/0,7211,40309,00.html). One of the great recent social features Forrester has added is the ability to comment on their pieces. To their piece on the failure of requirements, my comment included the following:

    “Gathering requirements results in opinion-based (solution-pre-defined) design rather than fact-based (or evidence-based) design (leveraging various design research methods — prior usability findings, contextual inquiry, feedback analysis, etc.). Requirements come out of the design process, where the evidences are worked through by a design team including the business and IT, but also an architectural body — representing process, data, function, services, security, UI/UX perspectives. It is only through conversations from these various perspectives that all impacts can be considered (high level) and resolved to end up with a ‘sound’ set of requirements to move into the first phase of development (iterative cycles can take hold from here).”

  2. Michael Grossman Says:

    Recently, ABCNEWS.com redesigned their website and one of the core reasons for the overhaul was to include social features. Unfortunately, this has backfired on them in that they clearly didn’t garner customer feedback during their product lifecycle. People have left hundreds of negative comments using their new social tools. I blogged about this at the beginning of the month:

    For social features to be successful in shaping future versions of something, you need to have a process or lifecycle in place already that knows how to deal with listening to customers. A lot of companies out there like ABCNEWS.com are jumping to include these features without having a good lifecycle in place. Maybe the feedback itself will force companies to change their process. The famous tire swing cartoon comes to mind here.

    I like what Paula mentioned here and feel we have to continue to tease this out to make sure we can consume this valuable data better.

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