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Social Interaction Design

What is Social Interaction Design?

Many of today's web designers have specialized in a particular web domain. These might include web 2.0 applications and design, css, ajax, javascript, dhtml and other interactive languages, animations and flash, and more. Added to these different kinds of web skills are other web development practices: Information Architecture (IA), User Experience (UX or UE), Interaction Design (IxD), Usability, Q/A, and more.

I call what I do "Social Interaction Design" (SxD). It's a niche specialization in the structuring and design of social media with an emphasis on social practices. Social media of course have UI, design elements, form pages, search, directories and navigation schemes, and many of the components that have long defined web design. Social interaction design is an approach to web 2.0 and social media that addresses the social interface: the interaction of web site with data/information where users provide the content, and interactions are social. Users engage with other users, whether they know them or not, and whether they really care about them or not.

All of these individual actions and contributions together produce the content, which is to say, produce the experience also, that defines and becomes the identity of a social media service. Failure to provide for compelling user experiences and visible, recognizable, and compelling social practices, will result in failure of the site.

What is SxD?

  • Design of social media
  • Involves all web design disciplines: User Interface, Interaction design, Experience design, Information Architecture
  • Social media include networked applications that permit direct and indirect, private and public communication and interaction
  • Social media platforms may be computer-based or mobile, even game platforms
  • They engage the participation of users
  • User participation produces mediated social practices

Any social media service organizes individual and social activity

Interactions = Social

  • Conventional user interaction and user interface approaches address the user's interaction with the device
  • The designer designs the screen
  • The interaction is User—Software
  • The Social Interaction Designer also designs beyond screen
  • The interaction of User—Software—User

Questions and Answers

  • Every question suggests acceptable answers and responses, thus making it easier for users to participate
  • A question is a request, and so suggests and organizes interaction
  • Are inherently conversational, making them a smart way to organize content around communication
  • Question/Answer formats surface expertise, responsiveness, affinity and personality
  • Questions/Answers can be easily extended as discussions, as on Yahoo Answers

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Reviews and User Generated Review sites

  • Review sites want to deliver the promise of consumer generated media: people talking about what they like in their own voices
  • User reviews have authenticity of voice and personality, and should be free of marketing bias
  • Products, services, events, and businesses reviewed seek to benefit, but of course desire positive and complimentary reviews
  • The challenge for review sites is engaging businesses without introuducing bias or undermining user communities
  • Reviews are often experiential: written as biographical stories. Businesses can get hijacked by users (including those who are well-intentioned) for the purposes of appealing to an audience
  • Reviewers will pursue their own social interests, dscribing themselves with personality and flair while using the form of business reviews

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The stickiness of a social media site may depend on the glue that binds its community

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