Designing the viral app w/Christina Wodtke

Christina Wodtke made an excellent presentation at Interaction 09 – Vancouver. Christine is a product manager for Linked In. Our favorite professional  networking website.  If you would like to hear Christina speak, she is making another appearance in Calgary shortly.

Christina talked about how your product or website in her case ( and ours ) should be to make it effortless to the user. In her words, frictionless. She gave basically some examples in companies have made ONE small change to their service/product that made their product “frictionless”. What that really means is to actually removing any doubts the user has about making a decision on your website.

One example was Youtube. What Youtube did that nobody else was doing was allowed users to embed the videos in their own website of course this was against most of the rules at the time, as you didn’t want people to actually move away from your website. What YouTube did to fix that was display other videos from their website after the inital video. In excellent idea obviously as they are still very successful.

Throughout her talk she told us about some patterns she had been noticing in the websphere.

1. The Asymetric Follow

Following someone like on Twitter is like a cascual handshake. It says, Hey I think you’re cool and I would like to know more about it. Whereas facebook you need to ask someone’s permission to be there friend and they have to approve that they know you. Generally people will follow you if you follow them. It’s a great way to expand your network and your reach ( whether you are a individual or a company).

2. News feeds

Both Facebook and linked in as well as other social media sites are using news feeds to keep users informed and to keep drawing them back to the site. Many sites are designing their services around the newsfeed. As it’s one of their most useful tools to their users. It’s aggregated content.

3. Impactful

Instead of saying impactful she could have used the work relevant. But, I think relevant is overused.. Either way. You want to make sure you users get the most imapctful ( relevant) content easily. Using lists such as mopst emailed, most blogged and most shared – makes that happen. NyTimes does that well.

nytimesmostpop

4. Outreach

Give the users the tools to allow them to share and communicate your message to others in their network.Examples include: sharelets, blog this button, share  buttons and the recommend button. NYtimes.com has a nice share feature. Christina did give us a warning about this – she warned to choosse a few relevant sites to share to if not we would overwhelm the users.

nytimeshare

5. Targeted

You need to choose who in your user group is the making the most of your service and helping you the most. You as a company need to find out who those users are and make their life easier so they can help you even more. Sounds kinda selfish but it’s life. An example she gave us was Yahoo Groups. They chose the group manager. That’s the person who best keeps the conversation going, has influence and flushes out anyone not wanted. Yahoo decided these users were most important to them. They then spend the time enhancing the user experience for them. To read more about the types of users and how to identify who helps you company the most, visit the Groundswell.

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