0
Meanwhile, In the
Rest of the World...
RailsConf 2006 - Chicago, Illinois



Practicalmadness
Hello, my name is David, and
I’ve come here to tell you what
      you’re doing wrong.
I make:
✦ E-commerce sites for online and bricks-’n-mortar retailers
I make:
✦ E-commerce sites for online and bricks-’n-mortar retailers

✦ CRM and client account management webapps for smal...
I make:
✦ E-commerce sites for online and bricks-’n-mortar retailers

✦ CRM and client account management webapps for smal...
I make:
✦ E-commerce sites for online and bricks-’n-mortar retailers

✦ CRM and client account management webapps for smal...
I make:
✦ E-commerce sites for online and bricks-’n-mortar retailers

✦ CRM and client account management webapps for smal...
But before that,
I worked in
tech support.
While we’re all excited about
the “new” Web, much of our
potential audience is still
discovering the old one.
The new hotness
The new hotness
✦ Create online communities, organized around communication
  and sharing of information.
The new hotness
✦ Create online communities, organized around communication
  and sharing of information.

✦ Participate i...
The new hotness
✦ Create online communities, organized around communication
  and sharing of information.

✦ Participate i...
The new hotness
✦ Create online communities, organized around communication
  and sharing of information.

✦ Participate i...
Surf di erently.
Surf di erently. Surf better.
And the user says...
And the user says...

✦ No!
And the user says...

✦ No!

✦ What?
And the user says...

✦ No!

✦ What?

✦ Huh?
But what the user means is:
But what the user means is:
         “Why?”
Some faulty assumptions
Customers know what their
     browser can do
Users know what they’re
     talking about
“Everybody lies.”
     - Dr. House
User requests are often aspirational in nature

✦ The user would like to make it easy for someone to send him/
  her a mes...
User requests are often aspirational in nature

✦ The user would like to make it easy for someone to send him/
  her a mes...
User requests are often aspirational in nature

✦ The user would like to make it easy for someone to send him/
  her a mes...
User requests are often aspirational in nature

✦ The user would like to make it easy for someone to send him/
  her a mes...
User requests are often aspirational in nature

✦ The user would like to make it easy for someone to send him/
  her a mes...
User requests are often aspirational in nature
✦ The user needs to be able to post files to their website for
  friends or ...
User requests are often aspirational in nature
✦ The user needs to be able to post files to their website for
  friends or ...
User requests are often aspirational in nature
✦ The user needs to be able to post files to their website for
  friends or ...
User requests are often aspirational in nature
✦ The user needs to be able to post files to their website for
  friends or ...
Users are choosing their
     environment
What they’ve got
What they’ve got
✦ Windows XP + Internet Explorer 6.x
What they’ve got
✦ Windows XP + Internet Explorer 6.x

✦ E-mail via Hotmail, Yahoo Mail or Outlook/Outlook Express
What they’ve got
✦ Windows XP + Internet Explorer 6.x

✦ E-mail via Hotmail, Yahoo Mail or Outlook/Outlook Express

✦ Inst...
What they’ve got
✦ Windows XP + Internet Explorer 6.x

✦ E-mail via Hotmail, Yahoo Mail or Outlook/Outlook Express

✦ Inst...
What they’ve got
✦ Windows XP + Internet Explorer 6.x

✦ E-mail via Hotmail, Yahoo Mail or Outlook/Outlook Express

✦ Inst...
What they’ve got
✦ Windows XP + Internet Explorer 6.x

✦ E-mail via Hotmail, Yahoo Mail or Outlook/Outlook Express

✦ Inst...
The problem
The problem
    People are not aware of the new hotness
✦
The problem
    People are not aware of the new hotness
✦


    People don’t think they need the new
✦

    hotness
The problem
    People are not aware of the new hotness
✦


    People don’t think they need the new
✦

    hotness
    Th...
They don’t think they need the
        new hotness.
Many people are only casual
Web users who visit a
relatively small number of
sites
They already have a circle of
people they communicate
with, and established means
for doing so
Many people who use
computers every day feel
that they don’t fully
understand them
And even relatively tech-savvy
people don’t see how the new
hotness fits into their lives
So why should we care?
Awareness
Many Web 2.0-isms would be a hit with
your users, if only they knew how to take
advantage of them
Market opportunity
We’re not just talking about Grandma
Vision
We wanna change the world, remember?
So what’s the solution?
Do your homework
Talk to people.
Talk to people.
The solution is more than just
        a feature set
Think about the future
And now, errata
Cmere
My projects
              The next generation of web invites



              MightyShelf
              What the wor...
(They’re not here, unfortunately)
It starts with how you think
      about the product
Before you start
✦ Who’s gonna use it?

✦ How will they use it?

✦ How often will they use it?
railsconf
Syndication
?!
RSS Awareness
RSS Awareness
✦ Only 12% of internet users are aware RSS exists
RSS Awareness
✦ Only 12% of internet users are aware RSS exists

✦ Only 4% have knowingly used it
RSS Awareness
✦ Only 12% of internet users are aware RSS exists

✦ Only 4% have knowingly used it

✦ 27% of users consume ...
RSS Awareness
✦ Only 12% of internet users are aware RSS exists

✦ Only 4% have knowingly used it

✦ 27% of users consume ...
FeedWhat? NetNewsWho?
RSS requires the use of specialized software
FeedWhat? NetNewsWho?
RSS requires the use of specialized software

✦ ...which many users can’t / don’t want to install
FeedWhat? NetNewsWho?
RSS requires the use of specialized software

✦ ...which many users can’t / don’t want to install

✦...
Night of the living bookmarks
Or the use of (dare I say) poorly-concieved browser features
Night of the living bookmarks
Or the use of (dare I say) poorly-concieved browser features

✦ What’s the di erence between...
Night of the living bookmarks
Or the use of (dare I say) poorly-concieved browser features

✦ What’s the di erence between...
Night of the living bookmarks
Or the use of (dare I say) poorly-concieved browser features

✦ What’s the di erence between...
Portals are, like, so 1996
Or is built into personalized home pages like My Yahoo and
Google
Portals are, like, so 1996
Or is built into personalized home pages like My Yahoo and
Google

✦ These pages are so full of...
Portals are, like, so 1996
Or is built into personalized home pages like My Yahoo and
Google

✦ These pages are so full of...
Portals are, like, so 1996
Or is built into personalized home pages like My Yahoo and
Google

✦ These pages are so full of...
“RSS” is invisible to end users
“RSS” is invisible to end users
         And that’s the way we want it.
(Boy, these website buttons are tiny!)
User, RSS. RSS, User.
✦ Describe RSS in lay terms, as it pertains to your app
User, RSS. RSS, User.
✦ Describe RSS in lay terms, as it pertains to your app

✦ Don’t assume that the user will make the ...
User, RSS. RSS, User.
✦ Describe RSS in lay terms, as it pertains to your app

✦ Don’t assume that the user will make the ...
User, RSS. RSS, User.
✦ Describe RSS in lay terms, as it pertains to your app

✦ Don’t assume that the user will make the ...
Know your mystery meat
Hey look! Words!



      Flickr
Tags
?!
railsconf
What is a tag?
What is a tag?
No, really, what is a tag?
Tags are “microcomments”
Things to consider
Things to consider
✦ What sorts of things are users looking for when using your app?
Things to consider
✦ What sorts of things are users looking for when using your app?

✦ What are the most logical ways to ...
Things to consider
✦ What sorts of things are users looking for when using your app?

✦ What are the most logical ways to ...
Things to consider
✦ What sorts of things are users looking for when using your app?

✦ What are the most logical ways to ...
Things to consider
✦ What sorts of things are users looking for when using your app?

✦ What are the most logical ways to ...
Practically perfect tagging
Practically perfect tagging
✦ If the app is narrow in scope, suggest that the tags be narrow in
  scope
Practically perfect tagging
✦ If the app is narrow in scope, suggest that the tags be narrow in
  scope

✦ If each tag is ...
Practically perfect tagging
✦ If the app is narrow in scope, suggest that the tags be narrow in
  scope

✦ If each tag is ...
ExtraTasty!
   skinnyCorp
Self-supporting UI



      ExtraTasty
Cork’d
 Tundro
Tag clouds
       They’re not the devil, but are often a lesser demon

✦ What exactly does larger text
  signify? How does...
Meaningful collections
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  1. 1. Meanwhile, In the Rest of the World... RailsConf 2006 - Chicago, Illinois Practicalmadness
  2. 2. Hello, my name is David, and I’ve come here to tell you what you’re doing wrong.
  3. 3. I make: ✦ E-commerce sites for online and bricks-’n-mortar retailers
  4. 4. I make: ✦ E-commerce sites for online and bricks-’n-mortar retailers ✦ CRM and client account management webapps for small real estate companies
  5. 5. I make: ✦ E-commerce sites for online and bricks-’n-mortar retailers ✦ CRM and client account management webapps for small real estate companies ✦ Content sites for artists, publishers and other perfectionists
  6. 6. I make: ✦ E-commerce sites for online and bricks-’n-mortar retailers ✦ CRM and client account management webapps for small real estate companies ✦ Content sites for artists, publishers and other perfectionists ✦ Little fixes, tweaks, improvements or total catastrophic revisions to any of the above
  7. 7. I make: ✦ E-commerce sites for online and bricks-’n-mortar retailers ✦ CRM and client account management webapps for small real estate companies ✦ Content sites for artists, publishers and other perfectionists ✦ Little fixes, tweaks, improvements or total catastrophic revisions to any of the above ✦ Money
  8. 8. But before that, I worked in tech support.
  9. 9. While we’re all excited about the “new” Web, much of our potential audience is still discovering the old one.
  10. 10. The new hotness
  11. 11. The new hotness ✦ Create online communities, organized around communication and sharing of information.
  12. 12. The new hotness ✦ Create online communities, organized around communication and sharing of information. ✦ Participate in the web by publishing text and multimedia content, which can then be shared
  13. 13. The new hotness ✦ Create online communities, organized around communication and sharing of information. ✦ Participate in the web by publishing text and multimedia content, which can then be shared ✦ Enjoy newer, more agile means of consuming content via RSS readers or mobile devices
  14. 14. The new hotness ✦ Create online communities, organized around communication and sharing of information. ✦ Participate in the web by publishing text and multimedia content, which can then be shared ✦ Enjoy newer, more agile means of consuming content via RSS readers or mobile devices ✦ Spend less time waiting thanks to “live” Ajaxed UIs
  15. 15. Surf di erently.
  16. 16. Surf di erently. Surf better.
  17. 17. And the user says...
  18. 18. And the user says... ✦ No!
  19. 19. And the user says... ✦ No! ✦ What?
  20. 20. And the user says... ✦ No! ✦ What? ✦ Huh?
  21. 21. But what the user means is:
  22. 22. But what the user means is: “Why?”
  23. 23. Some faulty assumptions
  24. 24. Customers know what their browser can do
  25. 25. Users know what they’re talking about
  26. 26. “Everybody lies.” - Dr. House
  27. 27. User requests are often aspirational in nature ✦ The user would like to make it easy for someone to send him/ her a message...
  28. 28. User requests are often aspirational in nature ✦ The user would like to make it easy for someone to send him/ her a message... ✦ ...and that maybe that message should include a file attachment
  29. 29. User requests are often aspirational in nature ✦ The user would like to make it easy for someone to send him/ her a message... ✦ ...and that maybe that message should include a file attachment ✦ ...and perhaps also some tags
  30. 30. User requests are often aspirational in nature ✦ The user would like to make it easy for someone to send him/ her a message... ✦ ...and that maybe that message should include a file attachment ✦ ...and perhaps also some tags ✦ ...and that incoming messages should be available via RSS
  31. 31. User requests are often aspirational in nature ✦ The user would like to make it easy for someone to send him/ her a message... ✦ ...and that maybe that message should include a file attachment ✦ ...and perhaps also some tags ✦ ...and that incoming messages should be available via RSS ✦ ...and this feature goes unused when the user continues to use e-mail for all their communications needs
  32. 32. User requests are often aspirational in nature ✦ The user needs to be able to post files to their website for friends or customers to download...
  33. 33. User requests are often aspirational in nature ✦ The user needs to be able to post files to their website for friends or customers to download... ✦ ...and maybe also news items and calendar items and contact information and link lists and photos
  34. 34. User requests are often aspirational in nature ✦ The user needs to be able to post files to their website for friends or customers to download... ✦ ...and maybe also news items and calendar items and contact information and link lists and photos ✦ ...and maybe they want these items to be organized into subfolders
  35. 35. User requests are often aspirational in nature ✦ The user needs to be able to post files to their website for friends or customers to download... ✦ ...and maybe also news items and calendar items and contact information and link lists and photos ✦ ...and maybe they want these items to be organized into subfolders ✦ ...and the resulting complexity has them coming back next year wondering why it’s so hard to post a file to their website
  36. 36. Users are choosing their environment
  37. 37. What they’ve got
  38. 38. What they’ve got ✦ Windows XP + Internet Explorer 6.x
  39. 39. What they’ve got ✦ Windows XP + Internet Explorer 6.x ✦ E-mail via Hotmail, Yahoo Mail or Outlook/Outlook Express
  40. 40. What they’ve got ✦ Windows XP + Internet Explorer 6.x ✦ E-mail via Hotmail, Yahoo Mail or Outlook/Outlook Express ✦ Instant messaging via a proprietary client (e.g., AIM or Yahoo)
  41. 41. What they’ve got ✦ Windows XP + Internet Explorer 6.x ✦ E-mail via Hotmail, Yahoo Mail or Outlook/Outlook Express ✦ Instant messaging via a proprietary client (e.g., AIM or Yahoo) ✦ Listening to music via whatever music player they’ve got (e.g., iTunes or Windows Media Player)
  42. 42. What they’ve got ✦ Windows XP + Internet Explorer 6.x ✦ E-mail via Hotmail, Yahoo Mail or Outlook/Outlook Express ✦ Instant messaging via a proprietary client (e.g., AIM or Yahoo) ✦ Listening to music via whatever music player they’ve got (e.g., iTunes or Windows Media Player) ✦ Broadband (with a catch)
  43. 43. What they’ve got ✦ Windows XP + Internet Explorer 6.x ✦ E-mail via Hotmail, Yahoo Mail or Outlook/Outlook Express ✦ Instant messaging via a proprietary client (e.g., AIM or Yahoo) ✦ Listening to music via whatever music player they’ve got (e.g., iTunes or Windows Media Player) ✦ Broadband (with a catch) ✦ Search engine
  44. 44. The problem
  45. 45. The problem People are not aware of the new hotness ✦
  46. 46. The problem People are not aware of the new hotness ✦ People don’t think they need the new ✦ hotness
  47. 47. The problem People are not aware of the new hotness ✦ People don’t think they need the new ✦ hotness The new hotness has not been properly ✦ explained
  48. 48. They don’t think they need the new hotness.
  49. 49. Many people are only casual Web users who visit a relatively small number of sites
  50. 50. They already have a circle of people they communicate with, and established means for doing so
  51. 51. Many people who use computers every day feel that they don’t fully understand them
  52. 52. And even relatively tech-savvy people don’t see how the new hotness fits into their lives
  53. 53. So why should we care?
  54. 54. Awareness Many Web 2.0-isms would be a hit with your users, if only they knew how to take advantage of them
  55. 55. Market opportunity We’re not just talking about Grandma
  56. 56. Vision We wanna change the world, remember?
  57. 57. So what’s the solution?
  58. 58. Do your homework
  59. 59. Talk to people.
  60. 60. Talk to people.
  61. 61. The solution is more than just a feature set
  62. 62. Think about the future
  63. 63. And now, errata
  64. 64. Cmere My projects The next generation of web invites MightyShelf What the world would be like if Delicious Library didn’t take two hours to do something Nomatic Because searching for an apartment in Wicker Park sucks.
  65. 65. (They’re not here, unfortunately)
  66. 66. It starts with how you think about the product
  67. 67. Before you start ✦ Who’s gonna use it? ✦ How will they use it? ✦ How often will they use it?
  68. 68. railsconf
  69. 69. Syndication
  70. 70. ?!
  71. 71. RSS Awareness
  72. 72. RSS Awareness ✦ Only 12% of internet users are aware RSS exists
  73. 73. RSS Awareness ✦ Only 12% of internet users are aware RSS exists ✦ Only 4% have knowingly used it
  74. 74. RSS Awareness ✦ Only 12% of internet users are aware RSS exists ✦ Only 4% have knowingly used it ✦ 27% of users consume RSS via web portals like My Yahoo! without ever knowing what RSS is
  75. 75. RSS Awareness ✦ Only 12% of internet users are aware RSS exists ✦ Only 4% have knowingly used it ✦ 27% of users consume RSS via web portals like My Yahoo! without ever knowing what RSS is ✦ 28% are aware of podcasting, but only 2% subscribe to podcasts
  76. 76. FeedWhat? NetNewsWho? RSS requires the use of specialized software
  77. 77. FeedWhat? NetNewsWho? RSS requires the use of specialized software ✦ ...which many users can’t / don’t want to install
  78. 78. FeedWhat? NetNewsWho? RSS requires the use of specialized software ✦ ...which many users can’t / don’t want to install ✦ ...or which just doesn’t seem like something they want to use
  79. 79. Night of the living bookmarks Or the use of (dare I say) poorly-concieved browser features
  80. 80. Night of the living bookmarks Or the use of (dare I say) poorly-concieved browser features ✦ What’s the di erence between “Live bookmarks” and regular old bookmarks?
  81. 81. Night of the living bookmarks Or the use of (dare I say) poorly-concieved browser features ✦ What’s the di erence between “Live bookmarks” and regular old bookmarks? ✦ What’s the di erence between Safari RSS and a regular old web page?
  82. 82. Night of the living bookmarks Or the use of (dare I say) poorly-concieved browser features ✦ What’s the di erence between “Live bookmarks” and regular old bookmarks? ✦ What’s the di erence between Safari RSS and a regular old web page? ✦ Is the user aware that these features are even there?
  83. 83. Portals are, like, so 1996 Or is built into personalized home pages like My Yahoo and Google
  84. 84. Portals are, like, so 1996 Or is built into personalized home pages like My Yahoo and Google ✦ These pages are so full of advertising and commercial content that it’s not obvious that they can be tailored to user prefs
  85. 85. Portals are, like, so 1996 Or is built into personalized home pages like My Yahoo and Google ✦ These pages are so full of advertising and commercial content that it’s not obvious that they can be tailored to user prefs ✦ Users don’t find navigating to three di erent pages to do three di erent things inconvenient
  86. 86. Portals are, like, so 1996 Or is built into personalized home pages like My Yahoo and Google ✦ These pages are so full of advertising and commercial content that it’s not obvious that they can be tailored to user prefs ✦ Users don’t find navigating to three di erent pages to do three di erent things inconvenient ✦ Your website doesn’t have the right button
  87. 87. “RSS” is invisible to end users
  88. 88. “RSS” is invisible to end users And that’s the way we want it.
  89. 89. (Boy, these website buttons are tiny!)
  90. 90. User, RSS. RSS, User. ✦ Describe RSS in lay terms, as it pertains to your app
  91. 91. User, RSS. RSS, User. ✦ Describe RSS in lay terms, as it pertains to your app ✦ Don’t assume that the user will make the connection between your app’s RSS and someone else’s
  92. 92. User, RSS. RSS, User. ✦ Describe RSS in lay terms, as it pertains to your app ✦ Don’t assume that the user will make the connection between your app’s RSS and someone else’s ✦ Think about how your RSS will be consumed and target that
  93. 93. User, RSS. RSS, User. ✦ Describe RSS in lay terms, as it pertains to your app ✦ Don’t assume that the user will make the connection between your app’s RSS and someone else’s ✦ Think about how your RSS will be consumed and target that ✦ And finally...
  94. 94. Know your mystery meat
  95. 95. Hey look! Words! Flickr
  96. 96. Tags
  97. 97. ?! railsconf
  98. 98. What is a tag?
  99. 99. What is a tag? No, really, what is a tag?
  100. 100. Tags are “microcomments”
  101. 101. Things to consider
  102. 102. Things to consider ✦ What sorts of things are users looking for when using your app?
  103. 103. Things to consider ✦ What sorts of things are users looking for when using your app? ✦ What are the most logical ways to describe those things?
  104. 104. Things to consider ✦ What sorts of things are users looking for when using your app? ✦ What are the most logical ways to describe those things? ✦ Are users likely to need to group items using tags?
  105. 105. Things to consider ✦ What sorts of things are users looking for when using your app? ✦ What are the most logical ways to describe those things? ✦ Are users likely to need to group items using tags? ✦ The scope of taxonomy: is it open- or closed-ended?
  106. 106. Things to consider ✦ What sorts of things are users looking for when using your app? ✦ What are the most logical ways to describe those things? ✦ Are users likely to need to group items using tags? ✦ The scope of taxonomy: is it open- or closed-ended? ✦ How much overlap is there between the scope of your app and somebody else’s?
  107. 107. Practically perfect tagging
  108. 108. Practically perfect tagging ✦ If the app is narrow in scope, suggest that the tags be narrow in scope
  109. 109. Practically perfect tagging ✦ If the app is narrow in scope, suggest that the tags be narrow in scope ✦ If each tag is considered a separate, discrete item in your data model, consider presenting them that way to the user
  110. 110. Practically perfect tagging ✦ If the app is narrow in scope, suggest that the tags be narrow in scope ✦ If each tag is considered a separate, discrete item in your data model, consider presenting them that way to the user ✦ Don’t rely on users to decide how to best use the tagging feature -- show them
  111. 111. ExtraTasty! skinnyCorp
  112. 112. Self-supporting UI ExtraTasty
  113. 113. Cork’d Tundro
  114. 114. Tag clouds They’re not the devil, but are often a lesser demon ✦ What exactly does larger text signify? How does the user know that? Do they need to? ✦ Are the tags in the cloud meaningfully related to each other? ✦ How does the cloud relate to the item the user’s looking for?
  115. 115. Meaningful collections
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