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

Designing For Community

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talk from Web 2.0 Expo, Sep 17th, 2008

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Page 1: Designing For Community

Design for Community

There are no lasting technical solutions to social problems

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About Me


Interface Designer/UX guy, chi.mp

I live in Newburyport, MA, USA with my wife and 2 year old

I live in Newburyport, MA, USA

I’ve 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 bokardo.com




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Outline for today

1. What is community?

2. Growing your community

3. Designing for reputation

4. Dealing with hiccups

5. Cultivating passion

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What is community?


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Online community is a forced move, resulting from the inefficient ecology

of the Industrial Revolution

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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 can’t talk to someone directly, support is much more difficult.

7. Software that connects product users and lets them help each other is the most efficient way out.

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The message will get out.

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(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)

Community is:

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sharing photos

taking care of dogs

bid/sell on auctions

watching movies

listening to music

gamingsharing knowledge

treating disease

sharing medical info

reading stories


creating t-shirts


(whatever that is)

handmade goods

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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.

Community is not a feature of software.

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3 Types of Conversation

Company / Person

Person / Personwithin community

Person / Personoutside community

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Talking points1. Software doesn’t make communities, people do.

2. You don’t 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 can’t own a community.

8. Not everyone gets along in a community.

9. Community is more than support, it’s about getting better

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Bene"ts - Usage Lifecycle

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Bene"ts - ROI


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Growing your Community


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What features to add?

Start with the activity you’re supporting.


Watch how people currently do it.

How do they interact with you/each other?

How do they currently solve them?

Who do they communicate with?

Short answer: Model the interactions that already exist.

Longer answer:

How can we model this in software?

What problems do they have?

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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.

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Social FeaturesWhen the verbs involve more than one person

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Product Ratings

Share your own Product Images Add to Wish/Registry Lists

People who viewed this...buy this

Amazon sales rank (social proof )Submit a Product Manual

Customers who bought this also bought...

Help others #nd this itemTag this item

Rate this item

Customer Reviews

Customer Discussions

Offsite ReviewsListmania

So you’d like to...

Tell a friend

AMAZONProduct PageSocial Features

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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

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What a community manager does and what they’re responsible for.

The Community Manager

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“Craig Newmark

This isn’t altruism or social activism; it’s 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.

Founder, Craigslist

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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.

The Community Manager

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Feedback, comments, surveys, metrics,


Trends? Support Docs

Support Docs


Support Emails

Welcome Letters


tells team members

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Flickr’s 10 keys to community management

1. Engage: Don’t 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: Don’t 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 community’s most die-hard fans

8. Stay Calm: Develop a thick skin

9. Focus: Be !exible but don’t lose sight of your priorities

10. Be Visible: Stay human

What’s missing?


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Designing for Reputation


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Harriet Klausner#1 Reviewer on Amazon.com

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Harriet Klausner

#1 Reviewer on AmazonReviewing books since 200017,125 reviews as of Sep ‘08Reads and reviews an average of 5.56 books per day

Gets special treatment:

Talks to hundreds of authors who want her to read their bookWall Street Journal write-up:



Time write-up:

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Rank Reviewer Total Reviews Helpful Votes 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

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Total Reviews Helpful Votes

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Total Reviews Helpful Votes

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“Bryce Glass, interaction design lead for Yahoo Reputation Platform

Your reputation is equal to the sum of your past actions within (a) community.

http://bokardo.com/archives/social-design-patterns-for-reputation-systems-one/I did an interview with Bryce on reputation systems:

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The Pro#le must #t the domain.

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Community-speci"c Identity

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Multiple Indicators

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“What you expose in an interface becomes the entire universe for the people who use it.

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Optimize for value-added behavior

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Decided to implement system to reward members

Quick Study: Consumating

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 couldn’t catch up

What they learned:

You must reward for positive behavior, not just allow judging

People pay incredibly close attention to numbers

The reward system was part of the downfall of the site.

Numbers can serve as a deterrent to activity, especially when it’s hard to reach leaders


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What can’t you do?

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Dealing with Hiccups


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Had a huge SPAM problem: 75% of new accounts were SPAM

Quick Study: Ma.gnolia

SPAMmers had several different techniques

Some SPAMmers didn’t know they were SPAMming

Some features (e.g. link importing) exacerbated the problem

Recaptcha, no-follow, and akismet didn’t work.

Technological solutions in general didn’t work.

Some things did work:

An acknowledgement that SPAM isn’t a fully-solvable problem

Designating people “gardeners”

Give gardeners one invite each, to bring others into the fold.


Gardeners have the ability to !ag abusive SPAMmers

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Cultivating Passion


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sharing photos

taking care of dogs

bid/sell on auctions

watching movies

listening to music

gamingsharing knowledge

treating disease

sharing medical info

reading stories


creating t-shirts


(whatever that is)

handmade goods

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People are passionate whenthey’re good at some activity.

Our job as designers is to create software that makes people better at the activity they’re passionate about.

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“Kathy Sierra

It’s not what you sell, it’s what you help someone learn that matters.


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Quick Study: DogsterPerformed keyword study to #nd out what words people used

Found words that people wanted but weren’t on the site

Realized that existing content didn’t 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:

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Quick Study: RavelryWoman (Jessica) was, like lots of other folks, passionate about knitting

Search engines, bulletin boards, Flickr, didn’t help

Jessica knew that knitters had the information she needed

Jessica kept complaining about not #nding good pattern and yarn information online

So her and her husband created Ravelry, a knit and crochet community

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Quick Study: PatientsLikeMeIn 1998, Stephen Heywood was diagnosed with ALS (Lou Gehrig’s Disease)

They searched around the world, and realized that most folks with ALS were in the same boat.

In 2004, two of Stephen’s brothers created PatientsLikeMe to help people treat their disease, to share their experiences with others, and to support each other.

His family began to take care of him, #nding out about a disease they had little experience with.

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.

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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 inevitable...you need to deal with them honestly and quickly

5. Cultivating passion - make people better at something they’re already passionate about, connect them with others, and you’ll have a healthy community