What started out as something people did via e-mail and bookmark-sharing services like Delicious, is now moving to Facebook, Twitter, and other social broadcasting services. It is just so much more efficient to share a link once with all your friends and followers than to send it to each one individually.
Jakob Nielson and his research group, Nielsen Norman Group, have done it again – letting us know how users are actively perceiving and using social software for different business tasks. This research is important as the social web evolves so that we, as web content creators, know the best ways to present and offer different types of information, especially for corporate sites.
As we explore what social technologies can offer and the boundaries they can cross—boundaries that had confined the traditional Web—UX professionals must now take up a new design challenge. We must address the changing needs for social media and facilitate users’ taking better advantage of everything social media has to offer.
The industry has spent a lot of time defining Web 2.0 and mapping its DNA. But as we attempt to emulate the fast-growth success of the Web 2.0 darlings, we need to zero in on the parts of the DNA that actually create this noteworthy new value.
Nowadays everyone wants social in their sites and applications. It’s become a basic requirement in consumer web software and is slowly infiltrating the enterprise as well. So what’s a designer to do when confronted with the requirements to “add social”? Designing social interfaces is more than just slapping on Twitter-like or Facebook-like features onto your site. Not all features are created equal and sometimes a little bit can go a long way. It’s important to consider your audience, your product—what your users will be rallying around and why they would want to become engaged with it and each other, and that you can approach this in a systematic way, a little bit at a time.
Where would we be without rating and reputation systems these days? Take them away, and we wouldn’t know who to trust on eBay, what movies to pick on Netflix, or what books to buy on Amazon. Reputation systems (essentially a rating system for people) also help guide us through the labyrinth of individuals who make up our social web. Is he or she worthwhile to spend my time on? For pity’s sake, please don’t check out our reputation points before deciding whether to read this article.
There is a lot of excitement about efforts that are currently underway to explore what social technologies can offer—the boundaries they can cross that the traditional Web could not. Similar to users’ need to cope with the problems of adapting to the ever-changing face of social media, addressing the needs of social media in design requires additional effort and interest on the part of UX designers, to keep track of the capabilities and limitations of emerging technologies.
Although social networking sites have become the commonplace over the past eight years since the introduction of Friendster in 2002, designers have not yet explored two important notions: 1) What kind of social experience do social networking sites foster?; and 2) Do social networking sites encourage community?