getting there It’s Not Just Usability by Joel…

getting there?

It’s Not Just Usability
by Joel Spolsky
Monday, September 06, 2004

So a good social interface designer might say, let’s not display an error message. Let’s just pretend that the post about Viagra was accepted. Show it to the original poster, so he feels smug and moves on to the next inappropriate discussion group. But don’t show it to anyone else.
Social interface design is still a field in its infancy. I’m not aware of any books on the subject; there are only a few people working in the research side of the field, and there’s no organized science of social interface design. ………

Over the next decade, I expect that software companies will hire people trained as anthropologists and ethnographers to work on social interface design. Instead of building usability labs, they’ll go out into the field and write ethnographies.

kathy.lee :: portfolio
msn messenger whiteboard
SI 622 evaluation of systems and services

» created personas and scenarios to frame our evaluations
» fielded a survey to explore the competitive marketplace for IM applications as well users’ mental models
» conducted a cognitive walkthrough and heuristic evaluation of the drawing and collobration tools

mitupv exchange
an online cultural and educational exchange

the project’s largest payoffs came from involving the users. We conducted brainstorming sessions with the students to define functional requirements and tailored the development schedule to allow for ample user testing.







7 responses to “getting there It’s Not Just Usability by Joel…”

  1. HappyCow

    A friend of mine is also really into social networks and usability stuff. I completely agree that companies should start hiring anthropologists though. =)

    My anthro class’s final project has to be something that’s related to internet/www. Any thoughts/ideas? =)

  2. Oh, I was just observing that five months ago Joel had said that this is a totally new field, but then Kathy Lee (is she your friend?) seemed to already be engaging at it through her work on cognitive models of clients (not quite “anthro/socio”, but still not orthodoxically UI stuff either. hence, my “getting there?” (is Kathy getting there?) comment

    for the past two years I have been wanting to write about how the introduction of technology (fundraising management software, websites as publishing tools, legal case management databases, and so forth) among non-profit staff (who usually are not well trained in this field) shapes the way they organize work (technical stuff is relegated to the “young blood”) and affects power hierarchies (what the technician says, becomes often the only answer), much more markedly than corporate settings. this topic makes me personally very, very angry. I couldn’t find adequate bibliography on that, though.

  3. HappyCow

    No, that’s not the person I am talking about – don’t know Kathy Lee.

    I feel like I should learn how to read again. =P

  4. nono, I meant just to ask you if Kathy Lee was your friend, because she’s subscribed to my blog and she’s also subscribed to your delicious links as well. I thought I had spotted a connection there.

  5. HappyCow


    No, it’s “the person I am talking about”‘s friend!!!

    The person I was referring to originally = Drew Harry
    The person You were referrring to me = Kathy Lee
    The person whom Drew told me to subscribe to a week ago = Kathy Lee

    Weird, strange world…

  6. HappyCow

    Maybe that wasn’t worth freaking out that much…

    I’ve been sitting here doing work for past 5 hours… Please forgive my freaking-outness…

  7. yup, kathy’s interesting – check her out

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