Category: Social Design

Designing Social Interfaces Book: Become a User Experience Superstar

October 12th, 2009 — 8:14am

I was very excited last week to receive my contributor’s copy of the new O’Reilly/Yahoo! Press book, Designing Social Interfaces: Principles, Patterns, and Practices for Improving the User Experience. The authors are my social design heroes Christian Crumlish, the curator of the Yahoo! Design Pattern Library, and Erin Malone, principal of Tangible UX and founding member of the IA Institutute. I met Christian at a retreat in Oaxaca, where we had dinner in a beautiful courtyard with arched doorways. Our table of anthropologists, online community practitioners, and social entrepreneurs ate mole and drank mezcal while we pondered how to reflect lurkers’ presence and what the key elements of trust are in a web experience.

The book is a treasure trove of advice for anyone looking to build an interactive web or mobile experience in ways that are known to work. Detailed patterns for identity, reputation systems, sharing, and activity streams are a practical guide to those building online communities and creating interactive web and mobile experiences.

My contribution to the book is an essay on how to grow an online community based on best practices I’ve distilled from my fifteen years’ experience shepherding communities of entrepreneurs, teens, and teachers. A few key points:

  • As you design the interface, think about the different kinds of participants -lurkers, collectors, leaders
  • Give influencers tools to help them easily spread the word
  • Cultivate not just stars but also up-and-comers
  • Have a game plan for easing lurkers into participation – integrating with existing social applications can help draw them in, because if they see their friends participate, they are much more likely to participate
  • Don’t forget that good stories, with history, mission, and purpose, are the glue of the strongest communities. Weave your story into your interface and interactions, and let your users become the main characters in that story.
P.S. The first printing has a spelling error in my name, so for those of you Googling “Shara Kasaric”, my name is “Shara Karasic.” 😉

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