In today’s blog, I will again talk about online communities and network, but now from the different point of view; design. Previously, I already wrote how the popularity of internet has resulted in a rash of online social networks or web communities. Countless independent and commercial web sites have arisen that give the users online places to socialize, congregate, and exchange views and information. I seem like almost everybody today is member of such a social network, but how do they choose which one they will join? Well, what I have learnt over the last couple weeks is that a good social network has to have its purpose. Whether it is cars, or fashion, nature, some life-style, dating, or a brand, it will eventually get people’s attention. That is, in my opinion, the simple most important aspect of good social network; to be purpose oriented. I came up with this conclusion after considering my personal using of social networks as well as observing the use of social network of other people. People on social networks look for space to present themselves in particular activity or to see what other people do. If social network or community wants to be successful and useful, it has to get people’s attention offering them information of particular area those people are interested in.
There are two design elements I consider to be crucial for online communities and networks. These elements are clarity and simplicity. Clarity in the sense that the purpose of online community or network has to be clear and visible, as mentioned above. It should not pretend to be more useful than it really is. The purpose of it should be visible after few seconds of browsing through it, and the context has to be easy to find. Also, it has to be easy to use, in an instinctive way. People do not like to spend hours of their time only to understand how the networks works, instead, they will look for something else. The easiest way to make online network easy to use is by adopting common elements from other widely used online networks. However, even after adopting common elements, it has to differentiate from other online networks in a distinctive way. I know I may sound weird, or hard to do, but I am confident that everybody likes to use something that is different and new, but on the other hand easy to use because of some similarities with already existing things.
What I would really tell next year’s class is that they need a very open mind for this course, and that they need to think out of the box to come out with something unique and useful. This course is all about getting information and finding ways how to use them. It needs some dedication, patience, and time to come up with a good result. This course also requires students to work together on one common goal, to share the ideas, and to solve problems together as a team. It demonstrates what different obstacles and challenges can wait for us in the world, and how to get over them. I believe, that all this skills will be very useful during the whole path through the IDE program, as well as the professional life afterwards.