Group experience design

Interesting notes contrasting user experience versus group experience design by Clay Shirky in commenting about social software and the politics of groups:

…we have a much better idea of how to improve user experience than group experience, and a much better idea of how to design interfaces than constitutions. While word processors and graphics editors have gotten significantly better over the years, the features for mailing lists are not that different from the original LISTSERV program in 1985. Most of our methods for soliciting user feedback assume, usually implicitly, that the individual’s reaction to the software is the critical factor. This tilts software and interface design towards single-user assumptions, even when the software’s most important user is a group.

Over the last several years, the importance of user experience, user testing, and user feedback have become obvious, but we have very little sense of group experience, group testing, or group feedback.

Most of our methods for soliciting user feedback assume, usually implicitly, that the individual’s reaction to the software is the critical factor. This tilts software and interface design towards single-user assumptions, even when the software’s most important user is a group.

Guilty as charged. Although I’ve never explicitly worked on designing apps for groups, I can say that I’d probably approach the problem from the single user perspective first. I suppose it could be argued that if you don’t first address the needs of the individual, group participation will be negatively impacted for any social software type app. But that would presume that the long term goal for the group application is very well understood.

Group experience design – excellent focus to remember for any social software application development team.

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