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.” 😉

2 comments » | Community, Social Design

Enchanted Island (Gili Trawangan, 1990)

September 16th, 2009 — 10:19pm

The travel guidebook claimed it was a fine swim from one Gili island to the other, and I knew I was a strong swimmer.

Every day in Bali I plunged into the Java Sea, and swam far out from the black sand beach to where I could float. From the gently swaying water I would gaze at the green hills of Kayuputih rising above Lovina, and the solid purple peaks of Java piercing the sky to the west.

I swam to near where the good coral was, scarlet and deep. I swam through sea lice that stung and stung my fingers. I swam so far that I could no longer see the touts selling postcards, the massage women, or the wooden bench where every day we sat and drank sugary iced tea and smoked single kreteks with Lasmana, the blind man.

One day Pasek and I take the ferry from Padangbai to Lombok, wanting to vomit as the boat lurches away from Bali’s shore. After sitting cross-legged on the floor for several hours drinking coffee at his cousins’ house in Sengigi, we charter a carriage led by an emaciated horse to go in the direction of the Gili Islands. A boatman with a wooden sampan rows us out to an island with no cars and a few huts with thatch roofs that arch into the sky. Continue reading »

5 comments » | Bali

FRONTLINE/WORLD iWitness Interview: BarCamp Swaziland

August 28th, 2009 — 7:57am

Our FRONTLINE/WORLD iWitness interview about BarCamp Swaziland is now up:

Swaziland: The King and the Web

25 comments » | Africa, Swaziland

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