designing for community

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Design for Community There are no lasting technical solutions to social problems

Author: joshua-porter

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talk from Web 2.0 Expo, Sep 17th, 2008


  • Design for Community There are no lasting technical solutions to social problems
  • A About Me I live in Newburyport, MA, USA with my wife and 2 year old Ive been designing web sites for 10 years. I worked at User Interface Engineering for 5 years. I started Bokardo Design in August, 2007. I blog at http://twitter/bokardo Currently: Interface Designer/UX guy,
  • Outline for today 1. What is community? 2. Growing your community 3. Designing for reputation 4. Dealing with hiccups 5. Cultivating passion
  • What is community? 1
  • Online community is a forced move, resulting from the inecient ecology of the Industrial Revolution http://www.
  • Consider: 1. We rarely meet the people we do business with face-to-face. 2. We purchase increasingly specialized goods. 3. Our neighbors are less likely to have the same goods. 4. We still need to learn how to use the specialized goods. 5. The way to access information about the product is online. 6. When you cant talk to someone directly, support is much more dicult. 7. Software that connects product users and lets them help each other is the most ecient way out.
  • The message will get out. http://www.
  • Community is: (n) a group of people living together in one place (n) a group of people having a particular characteristic in common (religion, race, profession, interest)
  • sharing knowledge gaming eating listening to music knitting treating disease watching movies shopping sharing photos sharing medical info bid/sell on auctions creating t-shirts handmade goods reading stories taking care of dogs twittering (whatever that is)
  • Thesis Community is not a feature of software. When you support an activity, when you make people better at that activity, by either supporting them directly or helping them support each other, then you gain the opportunity for that group of people to call themselves a community.
  • 3 Types of Conversation Company / Person Person / Person Person / Person within community outside community
  • Talking points 1. Software doesnt make communities, people do. 2. You dont create communities, you cultivate them. 3. You probably have a community whether you know it or not. 4. Communities change over time; they grow and evolve. 5. Communities need to be managed. 6. Communities form around activities, not necessarily software. 7. You cant own a community. 8. Not everyone gets along in a community. 9. Community is more than support, its about getting better
  • Bene ts - Usage Lifecycle
  • Bene ts - ROI
  • Growing your Community 2
  • What features to add? Short answer: Model the interactions that already exist. Longer answer: Start with the activity youre supporting. Watch how people currently do it. How do they interact with you/each other? What problems do they have? How do they currently solve them? Who do they communicate with? Ask: How can we model this in software?
  • The AOF Method 1. Choose an ACTIVITY (you probably already have one) 2. Find out what OBJECTS people use within that activity 3. Find out what people do with those objects (VERBS) 4. Those verbs become features.
  • Social Features When the verbs involve more than one person
  • Product Ratings Add to Wish/Registry Lists Share your own Product Images Tell a friend People who viewed this Submit a Product Manual Amazon sales rank (social proof ) Customers who bought this also bought... Help others nd this item Tag this item Rate this item Customer Reviews Customer Discussions Osite Reviews Listmania So youd like to... AMAZON Product Page Social Features
  • Build Outward 1. Start with people you know (friends or current customers) 2. Get them up to speed 3. Let them bring their friends/family/colleagues into the fold 4. Get those people up to speed 5. Let them bring their friends/family/colleagues into the fold 6. Rinse and repeat
  • The Community Manager What a community manager does and what theyre responsible for.
  • This isnt altruism or social activism; its just giving people a break. Pretty much all the world religions tell us one moral value is to help others if you can. I feel that customer service, even when you get paid for it, is an expression of that value, an everyday form of compassion. Craig Newmark Founder, Craigslist
  • The Community Manager 1. Responsible for the morale of the community. 2. Responsible for greeting new members and getting them up to speed. 3. Responsible for handling incoming complaints, compliments, & feedback. 4. Responsible for advocating for users with the rest of the team. 5. Responsible for watching for and identifying trends in use. 6. Responsible for keeping the peace. 7. Responsible for enforcing the rules for participation. 8. Responsible for evangelizing the software and the community. 9. Responsible for growing support documentation.
  • Trend nder Feedback, comments, surveys, metrics, etc. tells team members Trends? Support Docs FAQS Support Emails Welcome Letters Interfaces
  • Flickrs 10 keys to community management 1. Engage: Dont just listen to your community. Engage 2. Enforce: Let the community help set standards and policies for appropriate behavior- then enforce them 3. Take Responsibility: Fess up immediately when you make mistakes 4. Step Back: Dont be afraid to step back and let your customers take over 5. Give Freely: Never underestimate the allure of a free T-shirt (or sticker, or button) 6. Be Patient: Take knee-jerk reactions with a grain of salt 7. Hire Fans: Make sure your employees are as passionate about your product as your communitys most die-hard fans 8. Stay Calm: Develop a thick skin 9. Focus: Be exible but dont lose sight of your priorities 10. Be Visible: Stay human Whats missing? ickr/index_01.htm
  • Designing for Reputation 3
  • Harriet Klausner #1 Reviewer on
  • Harriet Klausner #1 Reviewer on Amazon Reviewing books since 2000 17,125 reviews as of Sep 08 Reads and reviews an average of 5.56 books per day Gets special treatment: Talks to hundreds of authors who want her to read their book Wall Street Journal write-up: Time write-up:,9171,1570726,00.html
  • Helpful Votes/ Rank Reviewer Total Reviews Helpful Votes Review 1 Harriet Klausner 14959 92448 6.18 2 Lawrence Bernabo 6666 94069 14.11 3 Don Mitchell 3235 57539 17.78 4 Gail Cooke 4190 35883 8.56 5 Rebecca Johnson 4062 42531 10.47
  • Total Reviews Helpful Votes
  • Total Reviews Helpful Votes
  • Your reputation is equal to the sum of your past actions within (a) community. Bryce Glass, interaction design lead for Yahoo Reputation Platform I did an interview with Bryce on reputation systems:
  • The Pro le must t the domain.
  • Community- speci c Identity
  • Multiple Indicators
  • What you expose in an interface becomes the entire universe for the people who use it.
  • Optimize for value- added behavior
  • Quick Study: Consumating Decided to implement system to reward members Theory: Reward for action leads to more action Allowed people to give thumbs up/thumbs down to others Showed people how they compared with others People began to ask others for thumbs up People began to thumbs down others so they couldnt catch up What they learned: You must reward for positive behavior, not just allow judging People pay incredibly close attention to numbers Numbers can serve as a deterrent to activity, especially when its hard to reach leaders The reward system was part of the downfall of the site.
  • Reciprocity
  • What cant you do?
  • Dealing with Hiccups 4
  • Quick Study: Ma.gnolia Had a huge SPAM problem: 75% of new accounts were SPAM SPAMmers had several dierent techniques Some SPAMmers didnt know they were SPAMming Some features (e.g. link importing) exacerbated the problem Recaptcha, no-follow, and akismet didnt work. Technological solutions in general didnt work. Some things did work: An acknowledgement that SPAM isnt a fully-solvable problem Designating people gardeners Gardeners have the ability to ag abusive SPAMmers Give gardeners one invite each, to bring others into the fold.
  • Cultivating Passion 5
  • sharing knowledge gaming eating listening to music knitting treating disease watching movies shopping sharing photos sharing medical info bid/sell on auctions creating t-shirts handmade goods reading stories taking care of dogs twittering (whatever that is)
  • People are passionate when theyre good at some activity. Our job as designers is to create software that makes people better at the activity theyre passionate about.
  • Its not what you sell, its what you help someone learn that matters. Kathy Sierra
  • Quick Study: Dogster Performed keyword study to nd out what words people used Found words that people wanted but werent on the site Realized that existing content didnt ful ll needs of users Created a new set of content that focused on these users The new content was mostly about helping people be better dog owners Homepage design element:
  • Quick Study: Ravelry Woman (Jessica) was, like lots of other folks, passionate about knitting Jessica kept complaining about not nding good pattern and yarn information online Search engines, bulletin boards, Flickr, didnt help Jessica knew that knitters had the information she needed So her and her husband created Ravelry, a knit and crochet community
  • Quick Study: PatientsLikeMe In 1998, Stephen Heywood was diagnosed with ALS (Lou Gehrigs Disease) His family began to take care of him, nding out about a disease they had little experience with. They searched around the world, and realized that most folks with ALS were in the same boat. In 2004, two of Stephens brothers created PatientsLikeMe to help people treat their disease, to share their experiences with others, and to support each other. Stephen used the software until he passed away in 2006. Now, the PatientsLikeMe community is rede ning medicine by using the real-life experiences of people treating their own disease to help pharmaceuticals create better medicine.
  • Summary 1. What is community? - community is not a feature set, it is a word bestowed upon a group of people by that group of people 2. Growing your community - you need a community manager (or managers) to be responsible for nding trends and acting on them 3. Designing for reputation - people need to be given tools to improve their standing in the community as well as provide feedback 4. Dealing with hiccups - hiccups are need to deal with them honestly and quickly 5. Cultivating passion - make people better at something theyre already passionate about, connect them with others, and youll have a healthy community
  • Further Reading Designing for the Social Web, New Riders, 2008 Contact [email protected] 508-954-1896