Home > Social Design, Social Web > Defining Requirements for Social Web Applications – Part 1: Overview

Defining Requirements for Social Web Applications – Part 1: Overview


I’m going to be posting a series of posts over the next couple of weeks around defining requirements for Social Web applications.

My posts will almost entirely reference the book Designing for the Social Web, by Joshua Porter. It’s an absolutely wonderful treatment of designing applications for the social web, and if the topic is of interest to you, I highly recommend you pick up a copy.

My slant will be ever-so-slightly different from Porter’s, in that I’m specifically interested in defining requirements for social web applications. And every-so-often, I’ll slightly tweak his presentation of the material. But the difference in emphasis is so minor, that it’s pretty much a mute point.

Here’s an overview of some of the topics I’ll be covering, based on Porter’s book:

  1. The Rise of the Social Web
  2. Defining Requirements for Social Web Applications – A Framework
  3. Understanding Social Objects
  4. Defining core Users Actions around Social Objects
  5. Motivations for User Participation
  6. Defining requirements for Collective Intelligence
  7. Defining requirements for Sharing

Setting the context – the rise of the Social Web

The (somewhat obvious) premise of this series of posts is that the rise of Web 2.0-style applications such as YouTube, Facebook, Twitter, Flickr, Yelp, and so forth has profoundly changed what users expect from a web application. This shouldn’t be a surprise to anyone who has been on the web in the past several years.

Here are a just few important ways that users’ expectations and behavior have changed with the emergence of Web 2.0-style social applications, as outlined in Porter’s book (wording changed slightly as appropriate for the context):

  • Web 2.0-style sites don’t always provide the most valuable information on their site
  • – Instead, users contribute content, reviews, comments, and other rankings, and these appliactions provide them the tools for doing so.

  • People contribute their content without getting paid
  • – There is (typically) no monetary reward for uploading content and providing feedback.

  • People are not being managed in any tangible way
  • – This incredible contribution of user-generated content is no being managed. Individuals are acting independenly of one another, and together provide an amazing resource.

  • People interact with this user-generated content in a social context
  • – They look to the opinions of their friends, people of similar interests or who are “like” them in some way, and to strangers they will never meet.

  • People openly identify themselves

The point being, the Web has changed since the days of the dot com bust. The Web has become social.

Future posts will elaborate on what this means for the capabilities that users expect from social software, and suggest techniques for capturing these requirements.


Also in this series


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