Wednesday, October 19, 2005

Web 2.0: Getting the Mix Right

Yes, the Web is about people. It always has been. And, technology is involved, certainly.

When we began to work on the platform we lost sight of this fact, blinded by cold, hard cash and over-reliance on technology without any thought to it's usefulness to people. Fortunately, the cash wasn't endless, so we've been asked to be somewhat more practical.

With Web "2.0," we're just getting the mix right. At first we struggled with this new medium. Now, we're better at balancing on the tipping point. Taking the complex and making it as simple as possible.
  • Less big bang launches vs. More test-and-learn
  • Less solve all of your problems vs. More satisfy a single task
  • Less marketing flash vs. More word-of-mouth
  • Less words vs. More action
  • Less refreshing vs. More interacting
Peter's great new (and old) post alludes to the problem that I discussed here. I'm now refining my idea about what Jensen said.
"The universal problem seems to be how hard people have to work just to figure out what to do."
from Simplicity: The New Competitive Advantage in a World of More, Better, Faster by Bill Jensen

People actually know more of what they want to accomplish than might be apparent from watching them use the tools provided them. However, technology has filled our lives with tasks that have no impact on our goals and given us the "power" to generate tasks and information for each other.

Many technologies (e.g. Microsoft Office, CRM suites, etc.) generally have been built to levels higher than a task (a set of tasks for a person or organization). In order to do so, they had to standardize a persona or put in all features that all their various customers could use.

Still, that does not address the goals that engage people in the technology. Consider it at the level of inanity akin to hearing a mobile phone conversation absolutely void of any content.

1: "Hey."
2: "How you doin?"
1: "Cool. Where are you?"
2: "Home."
1: "Already? Nice!"
2: "Ok, talk to you tomorrow."
1. "Later."
2: "Bye."

The intent of this conversations is to be connected, to remind people that we are thinking about them. We're better served by solving simple tasks with technology - collecting data/information, creating new content, getting a picture of our overall progress on various goals.

As often discussed in usability or design conversations, we need to remember what people are actually trying to do and enable them to do so most effectively. With Web 2.0, we are actually showing how this might work.

I see the necessity of renaming the Web to Web 2.0 so we can distance people from history, and happy about the hope that this new outlook engenders. We're here to show other people that this is about listening and observing, not talking and controlling.

Go Web 2.0!

No comments: