6 August 2009

The information architecture of social experience design

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Designing social interfaces
Christian Crumlish, curator of the Yahoo! Design Pattern Library and author of The Power of Many, describes the patterns that are relevant when adding a social dimension to an existing experience.

“Designing and building a successful social website or application is no mean feat. Adding a social dimension to an existing experience is trickier still. Nevertheless, the skills to do so are well worth cultivating, as the ubiquitous, pervasive, massively interconnected world of the Internet and allied digital networks, such as mobile SMS (short message service) connections, have unlocked a growing panoply of opportunities for social relationships, remote presence, real-time interactions and the capacity for self-organized groups of people to coordinate their behavior and collaborate on changing the world.

So when your boss, client, teacher or mentor drops a project on your lap and asks you to “add social to it,” where do you start? I’m thinking you start with the information architecture and in particular your conceptual models.

The pattern language that Erin Malone and I are working on […], describes patterns we’ve observed roughly sorted to focus on three major elements of our concept model: people, objects and relationships. Over several years, and with input from many people, we gathered a large list of potential patterns to investigate, and so far we’ve codified 96 of them, with 56 other principles and practices, and five major don’ts, classified as anti-patterns.”

Christian Crumlish is writing a book called Designing Social Interfaces with Erin Malone. He is also a director of the Information Architecture Institute and co-chair of the monthly BayCHI program.

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