Web 2.0 is such a contentious term… I could never really understand why. Yeah, sure. It’s a buzzword and its meaning is kind of vague, but for me, it’s also been a call to action, a marshalling of the troups, a way to name the excitement that we should *all* be feeling, if we’re working in this space at the moment.
Now, before you write me off… yes, I was there for the last bubble. I was there before it, I worked through it, and I suffered the pain of the aftermath. (No, I didn’t get any shares that made me a millionaire, and I didn’t get one of those great redundancies that were going around… mostly, I just survived.)
I think the reason that Web 2.0 sits quite comfortably with me is because, rather than thinking of it as a new ‘version’ of the internet, I think of it as a new generation.
Generations are brief periods of time that were raved with pop cultures throughout the world. Many characteristics of these generations are the music, fads, and inventions placed in each period of time. (via wikipedia)
Generations don’t require ‘new’ things, they react and respond to the generation before them and to the social, political, technological, and media environment that they are born into. Theoretically, they learn from the mistakes of the past (although, this is not always the case!), the benefit from the learnings of their predecessors, they are more adept with advances in technology and live ‘natively’ with it – using it in ways that previous generations had never considered.
New generations are supposed to outrage their elders, to annoy them, to make them shake their heads and think of the good old days. They are supposed to make many of the same mistakes their elders have made, albeit in new ways (although, sometimes in v. old ways too), they are supposed to be troublesome and challenging and sometimes wild.
Via TechCrunch today I came across a new beta site – Jobby. This is a site that allows you to upload your resume and create a bit of a personal profile (if you’re hunting down work), or if you’re a potential employer, to search for suitable talent.
There’s nothing particularly special about that but – as Michael Arrington points out – the interface is worth a second look, if you’re into that kind of thing. Michael says:
The interface is exceptional and you don’t have to do more than click a couple of times on a tag cloud to set up tags. You’ll have to try it to fully understand how it works.
I think that might be a *bit* of an overstatement, but it certainly is a *very* efficient implementation of the ‘tag cloud’ as a interaction device, in this case, for creating lists.
Ajaxian is similarly impressed and says that Jobby:
combines a solid combination of interface and functionality to create an easy to use kind of user experience
The interface designers at Jobby do need to be congratulated for taking a new ‘web 2.0′ interaction concept that has been poorly implemented in so many places, and applying it in a new environment where it solves old interaction design problems. So, let’s check it out…
There’s been a wholelotoftalklately about ‘ugly design’ and the perception that ‘it works’. The often quoted examples are My Space, eBay, Craigs List, and Del.icio.us. As someone who spends too much time thinking about design and trying to apply user centred design principles to the projects I work on, I find this somewhat annoying.
First up, let’s define what we mean by design. There are really two different aspects to ‘design’ that people are referring to – there’s the design that I’m most interested in which is the information and interface design. Then there’s the design that is most often talked about, that’s the visual design. Both of these types of designs are important when it comes to thinking about this idea of ‘ugly design’ and why, sometimes, it appears to work.
Information/Interaction Design: no one likes bad information design. Bad information design means you can’t find the information you’re looking for because its badly placed, or doesn’t exist at all, or the ‘flags’ (or scent) you need to help you find the information are hard to find or non existent. When you come to a site like this, you leave. And you don’t come back, unless you absolutely have to. The internet is abundent with information and making information that people are looking for easy for them is an essential part of making your site somewhere they’ll visit and return to, and recommend to their social network. Good information design (which includes information architecture) is entry level to having ‘a site that works’.
Interaction design, when poorly executed, is also a source of frustration for users, and a good reason for them to seek out an alternative to your site. Interaction design is poorly executed when it doesn’t allow users to perform the tasks that they wish to perform on your site with thel least amount of effort. Taking the time to identify these tasks and to ensure that they are implemented efficiently means that your site becomes ‘easy to use’, which is compelling reason to choose your site over other alternatives.
I think I mentioned that I’ve been doing some user testing lately for a project I’m working on at the moment.
As part of that research, I included some questions to see whether services like Flickr and Del.icio.us were making any impact on the ‘general public’.
Working in web, and reading/writing blogs, it sometimes seems like *everyone* knows about Del.icio.us and Flickr and I find that perspective can influence the strategies that I am inclined to take with functionality and design for projects. It’s easy to start to think of Flickr, for example, as setting a number of 2.0 type conventions.
Except, it’s not really a convention if only a small group of people are aware of its existence.
And that, based on our research, is the case.
Not one person we interviewed (and, to put this in perspective, we interviewed about 18 people) volunteered either Flickr or Del.icio.us as services that they used online. Once prompted, they confirmed that they had never heard of either of them.
I guess its not really all that surprising. More like a reality check.
I’d be interested to hear of any other research that’s been done re: awareness of ’2.0′ services in the world outside of the blogosphere.
My name is Leisa Reichelt. I am the Head of User Research at the Government Digital Service in the Cabinet Office.
I lead a team of great researchers who work in agile, multidisciplinary digital teams to help continuously connect the people who design products with the people who will use them and support experimentation and ongoing learning in product design.
If you're interested in working with me or would like to talk more please email me