web analytics

Web 2.0 Expo NY: Joshua Porter’s “Designing for Community”

Here is the first of many round-ups from this week’s Web 2.0 Expo NY. Tuesday afternoon featured in-depth half-day sessions. I was only able to attend in the afternoon and I caught Josh Porter’s “Designing for Community.”

My Twitter stream from the session:

  • @bokardo is currently doing UX design for Chi.mp. Mentioned party tonight @shakeshack
  • Agenda: What is community? Growing your community. Designing for reputations. Dealing with hiccups. Cultivating passion.
  • “Online community is a forced move, resulting from the inefficient ecology of the Industrial Revolution”
  • Online community is the trend that’s getting us back in touch with the people who provide the things that we consume
  • Whatever message you have as a company will get out whether you try to curb it or not. Ppl will find a way to communicate about it
  • Community is a group of people with a common characteristic, often an activity that they do
  • “One of the biggest challenges in designing a community is figuring out what kind of activity you’re supporting”
  • http://Ravelry.com community for knitters
  • Thesis: Community is not a feature of software. It’s “when you make people better at that activity by supporting them or helping them support each other
  • 3 types of conversation: company->person, person->person within community, person->person outside community
  • You don’t create communities, you cultivate them. You have comm whether you know it or not. They grow & evolve. Need to be managed
  • You can’t own a community. Not everyone gets along in a community. Community is more than support, it’s about getting better.
  • Benefits of community, usage lifecycle: unaware, interested, first-time use, regular use, passionate use
  • Regular use: ppl who use your software regularly feel they’re getting value. Promote this sense of efficacy to gain their passion
  • As your community becomes more mature, expenditure for user support goes down. Users will give you ideas, mktg, 3rd party add-ons
  • Sitting next to @tikkers, community-manager extraordinaire :)
  • What features to add? Model interactions that already exist. Watch how ppl currently interact w/ each other and w/ you
  • What problems do they already have and how are they currently solving them? Then ask: How can we model this in software?
  • Breaking down what’s on a YouTube video page. Objects: 1) video, 2) meta user info, 3) other vids, 4) promoted vids, 5) responses
  • Still, video object takes almost 50% of screen. Everything is centered around that. Entire page is objects of *verbs*
  • YouTube, Netflix (“one of the most straightforward sites out there”), Yelp (reviews, friends, compliments). Simple objects on page
  • Amazon product page is freaking long (try it on http://superscreenshot.com), but almost all social objects on the page
  • People outside of your company can’t tell you what your social features need to be. You need to do your own research.
  • How to do this research: Build outward: start w ppl you know, get them up to speed, invite their friends, get them up to speed, etc.
  • Chi.mp has given out several hundred beta invites and constantly talking to them about their experiences
  • Community Manager has become one of the most important roles at a company now. Liason between company and users
  • Best example of Community Manager is Craig Newmark of craigslist. “Isn’t altruism or social activism. Just giving ppl a break.”
  • “All world religions tell us moral value to help others. Customer service is expression of that value, everyday form of compassion”
  • Community Manager is responsible for morale, greeting new members, handling feedback, advocating for users, identifying trends
  • Community Manager is responsible enforcing rules for participation, evangelizing software & community, growing support documentation
  • Trendfinder takes in feedback and communicates to team members and rest of community through documentation
  • Harriet Klausner is the 1 reviewer on Amazon.com. Joined in 2000 and if you do the math has read 5.56 books/per since then ;) …and she’s given them all 4 starts or better.
  • Is Harriet Klausner a good thing for Amazon? She’s written 17,125 reviews as of 2 weeks ago. Is “Top Reviewer” good for their comm?
  • Other people in the Amazon community are really upset by Harriet Klausner because she’s seen as fake
  • Lawrence Bernabo has fewer than 1/2 of Harriet’s total reviews, but he leads on helpful votes. 14.11% to her 6.18% Quite interesting
  • “Your reputation is equal to the sum of your past actions within a community”- @soldierant, IxD Lead for Yahoo! Reputation Platform
  • @mediajunkie just got a mention. Hi Christian!
  • Yahoo! Pattern Library’s reputation patterns
  • @bokardo currently going through competitive spectrum, named levels, identifying labels, etc on the Yahoo! Reputation Patterns
  • @bokardo still going through the Yahoo! Pattern Library reputation patterns. It’s a great resource and very thorough
  • Profile has to be context specific, “community-specific identity.” Political/religious views on Facebook but not LinkedIn
  • @bokardo mentioning how Twitter’s spam cleaning had accidentally made people lose followers. Twitterers care about their s
  • “What you expose in an interface becomes the entire universe for the people who use it.” — Director of UX at eBay. Dead right
  • When you add a reputation feature make sure you really want to keep it because your users will go apeshit when you take it away
  • Optimize for value: added behavior. Example: Consumating dating site. Thumbs up/down to other members. Caused too much judging
  • “The reward system was part of the downfall of the site.” You have to reward people for positive behavior, not just any behavior
  • Ben Brown, founder of Consumating, admitted that negative reputation on their site led to their downfall, led to less participation
  • Okay, it’s break time at @bokardo’s “Design for Community” talk. See you in a bit
  • @bokardo is back on, now talking about reciprocity.
  • Mentioned @cwodtke at LinkedIn who noted that almost everyone who gets a recommendation from someone writes one back
  • Not always best to reuse all objects on all pages. Think about where it’s appropriate and where not. Do you want to encourage it?
  • Dealing with hiccups: Dreamhost blog made light of their massive error in overcharging customers. Customers got angry at attitude
  • @bokardo talking about @jetblue’s email to customers after runway disaster. He’s calling it a great example of dealing w/ backlash
  • Top Diggers on Digg cause stories to get greater prominence on the homepage. List shows names and several metrics about them
  • Over time, ppl on top of the list wanted to stay on top. Then Diggers started colluding w each other, digging each other’s posts
  • To prevent this they removed link to Digg their friends’ stuff from the profile page. You can still do it from the story page.
  • Also can’t Digg stories from someone’s profile page. Closing the system just slightly had a major positive impact
  • @bokardo showing his Facebook page live. He has 22 friend requests. Will have many more after this talk. (2 good karma requests)
  • Talking about FB’s news feed backlash on release day. Ppl feared all their info in one place, even though it was all there already
  • Currently 1 million ppl have joined the FB group on hating the new redesign
  • Ppl want control over their info. News feed privacy settings were released, but very few ppl actually use them. Just feel better now
  • On social bookmarking site Ma.gnolia, real problem w spam b/c ppl just wanna spread links. Designated best users “Gardeners” to flag
  • Cultivating passion. It’s not about passion for your software, it’s passion for learning
  • @kathysierra getting quoted again
  • Dogster helps people learn about and get better at taking care of their dogs. Passion for the content, become better at activity
  • Support what people are searching for
  • Ravelry, knitting social network, was started by a woman who couldn’t find good patterns online (truthfully, it’s really hard)
  • 3 sections: organize, share, discover. Organize (make better at knitting on their own), Share (social)
  • @bokardo’s favorite community site is PatientsLikeMe. Helps ppl w disease find others w same symptoms. Started w ALS, theres no cure
  • let’s user track symptoms/treatments, great visualizations. Started as support network but data viz allow users track what’s working
  • @bokardo: “PatientsLikeMe is Facebook with value”
  • You can’t just look at Yahoo! Pattern Library and say “we need this, this and this.” Must be tailored to your specific users
  • Presentation is over. Now @bokardo is taking questions
  • How do you find out what users need? Interviews, surveys. Open-ended questions. Ground in actual activity. Dig into “always”&”never”
  • @bokardo just said “contextual inquiry” at a tech conference. I wonder how many ppl’s eyes just rolled back in their head ;)
  • @chrissieb asking about PatientsLikeMe and sensitivity around the online identity associated with a disease. @bokardo: public opt-in

Related Posts:

Together we can put humanity back into business

Sign up for my FREE ongoing guidance on how to strengthen your UX practice and design your career. You’ll also receive notifications on my latest blog posts, upcoming speaking engagements, new offerings, recent client projects, and more.


  1. Holy shit, that's awesome!

Leave a Reply