Why User Competency Matters in Social Design
But if we approach social design from the perspective of what users are good at, we might be better able to think outside our own box.
Goals and rewards – Consider the kinds of goals you might set within your social application and the rewards that may be earned by users who reach them. These might be personal goals and rewards, like game levels, tasks, challenges, or points. Or social goals and rewards, resulting in status, ranking, visibility, lists, features and spotlighting members.
Moods and feelings – Give expressive users ways in which to communicate their moods and feelings. For example, emoticons and gifts, or icons to be used and exchanged with friends or attached to messages and content. These small gestures, while small, can be curiously compelling.
Knowledge and learning – For users interested in research, information, bookmarking, and more search and browse-related activities, provide ways to share discoveries. Capture those learned moments and make them visible — perhaps surface and validate experts and top contributors.
Giving and receiving – For users who enjoy social transactions provide gifts and a means of passing them around privately and publicly. Gifting is a highly social form of communication, and besides being kind, engages a sense of reciprocity in most of us. So it’s naturally contagious.
Helping and assisting – Some users are just naturally good at paying attention to others, and enjoy helping and assisting those with needs or questions. Design ways to surface these needs and create channels by which helpers can pitch in.
Reviewing, recommending, and rating – Users equipped with opinions and a sense of taste can make valuable reviewers and recommenders. Design ways to capture their contributions as social content. This can be designed then into lists, favorite, trends, news and more.
Asking and answering – In a world of search, there are still many occasions when users want to ask questions and get personal answers. And in a world of search results, there are those who enjoy sharing their knowledge, expertise, and help. But questions disappear if they are not captured and paid attention to.
Announcing and sharing – There are users so on top of news that furnishing them with means to announce their discoveries makes for an easy and effective way to keep social content fresh and interaction active. Topical organization, along with trends, help users sort and filter what’s relevant to them.