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Designing Product As A Platform
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Designing Product As A Platform



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  • 3 quick caveats before I get started…
  • There are a number of reasons to open your platform.
  • Creating a platform for other products (including those products of peers in your company) is a complex task, and will involve you opening your experience, data, userbase, etc. to folks/ideas beyond your control. But with that word, open, comes a lot of baggage… one that that will influence how others (peers, co-workers, press, developers, etc.) interpret what you offer. My hope, with this talk, is that you walk away with a construct to evaluate your product when you consider “opening up” to the world.
  • 13 facets of Open… span the spectrum of of technology-specifics to user experience Exh vs. Exh
  • Starting point for most folks when thinking open Captures the “spirit” of what many believe to be “open,” if not the specifics Example: PHP Linux + Hadoop
  • Example: Amazon, Google
  • Your product allows others to build plugins, extensions, assorted elements as an add-on to an existing (and overwhelming experience) Example: Firefox, AMD
  • Very common in discussion about “open” The foundation on which the modern Web exists Example: HTML, XML, JavaScript
  • Building on Open Standards, an Open Ontology uses common Web development practices to store descriptive information about objects Allows data to be understood by software Example: Microformats, RDF/a Example: Firefox Operator and IE Web Slices
  • Your product embedded inside another Example: Twitter, Delicious, Yahoo!, eBay, Microsoft
  • Outside of a systems-level integration of your product into someone else’s, Open Canvas allows your content (or their) to be user-installed into existing web pages. In essence, Web badges on steroids, as the App not only appears there, it takes advantages of hooks into your system (such as Profile, Addressbook, newsfeeds, etc.) Example: iGoogle, Facebook Apps, Yahoo!
  • Much lighter-weight integration, but the predecessor to Open Canvas, Open Content allows users to choose content from providers of their choice. Example: RSS on My Yahoo!, iGoogle, NetVibes
  • On the flip side of content, lies the idea of the Open Mic…. Where users provide your content for other users, rather than you as the supplier. Akin to comedy club Small number of users contribute massive amounts of content, with others making occasional posts Example: YouTube
  • Users as participants in your ecosystem. Amazon reviews, Netflix ratings, Digg voting, Buzz comments.
  • As users contribute more and more to the product’s success, as in Open Mic and Open Forum, their “ownership stake” goes up… and they expect to be heard by the product team. Example: Facebook redesign, Craigslist paid model, Get Satisfaction
  • Beyond ownership stake in company, users expect some level of ownership around their data… especially if they’ve invested a lot of work into your product. Example: OPML and Data Portability
  • The culmination of user empowerment… my identity, my data, my settings, all belong to me as a user, not you as a product. *I* choose when/how/and how much I share with you Example: Passport, OpenID + Attribute exchange, Facebook Connect
  • Recap: wide spectrum of open-ness: from technical (top-left) to experience (bottom-right) So… once you have a sense of how open you want to be, you need to start thinking about how these then apply the users of your product/platform…
  • 2 primary questions regarding users: How do I support them… How I do embrace and engage them?
  • refer: Open Identity microID
  • refer: Open Borders, Open Access
  • refer: Open Door Policy
  • refer: Open Mic
  • refer: Open Forum
  • At Def Jam, we called them Street Teams Free, highly-motivated labor Refer: Open Forum, Open Mic, and Open Door
  • Recap: How do I embrace users of my product/platform? How do I embrace users and all they bring to my product/platform? Their ideas, their energy, their content, and their interaction. How can I make sure my existing models don’t clash with these types of experiences? Once you’ve answered this, you will need to look at how you shape your product/platform’s data.
  • People, Locations, Brands, Bands, Movies Platonic ideal Example: WOE IDs, Facebook interests, MySpace
  • refer: Open Ontology Example: SearchMonkey enhanced result + search query; Y! Local + Food
  • refer: Open Ontology, Open Identity Example: WordPress, Facebook
  • Example: YQL Open Tables Refer: Open Access, Open Content
  • Example: Y! Oauth screen Refer: open identity
  • Example: YAP, Facebook, OpenSocial Refer: open canvas
  • Example: Y! BOSS, Flickr Refer: open access
  • Example: Y! Contacts, Y! Invite, Y! User Card, YML Share
  • Example: Amazon Refer: open door
  • Takeaway: evaluate your product against this list
  • Recap: 13 facets of Openness, each which impact different areas of influence: Users, Developers, and Data Depending on your product, you’ll of course want to choose the appropriate facets for exposure and development


  • 1. Designing Your Product as a Platform
    • Micah Laaker, Yahoo!
  • 2. Caveats
    • Platform = software framework that powers 2 or more products
    • Lots of technology “recommendations” that are mostly used for example purposes; before adopting technology, investigate for latest updates to this space
    • Internal platform? External platform? Similar considerations.
  • 3. Why?
  • 4. Open
  • 5. questions when embarking on Platform Design
    • How “open” to go?
    • How do I leverage Users?
    • How do I shape my Data?
    • How do I engage Developers?
    4 1 2 3 4
  • 6. How Open? Photo: http://www.flickr.com/photos/wiccked/133164205/ 1
  • 7. Open Source
    • Free to use
    • Community contributions
    • Decentralized
    • High reliability
    Open 1/13
  • 8. Open Infrastructure
    • Pay-as-you-go, only-what-you-need cloud computing
    • Outsource hosting, ops, and processing
    Open 2/13
  • 9. Open Architecture
    • Anyone can mod your product... on your product
    • Plug’n’Play
    Open 3/13
  • 10. Open Standards
    • Community-driven
    • Goal is inter-operability
    • Software and Hardware
    Open 4/13
  • 11. Open Ontology
    • Describe what can not be seen
    • Future-proof your data
    • Goal is the Semantic Web
    Open 5/13
  • 12. Open Access
    • APIs
    • Multi-channel access
    • 3rd-party Developers/Partners can build on your platform
    Open 6/13
  • 13. Open Canvas
    • Product becomes a vehicle for 3rd-party content
    • Fast food sites: your content to-go
    Open 7/13
  • 14. Open Content
    • User is the editor by programming self-relevant content
    • Content comes to you when its ready
    Open 8/13
  • 15. Open Mic
    • The product is populated entirely by users
    • Users own their content
    • Products support making/discovery of content
    Open 9/13
  • 16. Open Forum
    • Users contribute ancillary data
    • Ratings, reviews, ranking, and link submissions
    • Heavy social interaction
    Open 10/13
  • 17. Open Door
    • User as product decision-maker
    • Reveal operational details
    • Communication is open to all
    Open 11/13
  • 18. Open Borders
    • Settings/configs can be imported/exported
    • No (product) commitments
    • Users can come-and-go
    Open 12/13
  • 19. Open Identity
    • User as owner of identity
    • 1 ID for many sites
    • Power to the people
    Open 13/13
  • 20. In what way(s) are you “open?”
  • 21.
    • How does our product support our users?
    • How does our product engage our users?
    Leverage Users 2
  • 22. User Identity
    • Support of OpenID as a relying party
    • Aggregation of cross-web identity
    • Leverage existing Relationship graphs
    Support function
  • 23.
    • Access to User data and configurations
    • Lifestreaming
    • Attention XML
    User Broadcasting Support function
  • 24. User Feedback
    • Suggestions
    • Metrics
    Support function
  • 25. User Contributions
    • User is the owner and creator of your product’s content
    Engagement model
  • 26. User Enhancements User adds value to existing content/system: Engagement model
  • 27. User Extensions
    • User as part of the product
    • Repairs, adds, and extends data
    Engagement model
  • 28. Leverage Users
  • 29. Shape Data 3
  • 30. Define the object
  • 31. Describe the Object
    • Use Microformats/RDFa
    • Assist machines in making sensible decisions about your data
    • Improve SEO
    • Make future integrations/product ideas feasible with small investment upfront
  • 32. Connect the Object
    • Support relationships between data
      • Social Graph
      • Interests
      • Kevin Bacon for Data
    • Use FOAF + XFN
  • 33. Distribute Objects
    • Expose XML/feeds of your items
    • Map your feeds thru YQL Open Tables
  • 34. Data Model
    • Define Objects
    • Describe Objects
    • Connect Objects
    • Distribute Objects
  • 35. Engage Developers 4
  • 36. Privacy/Security
    • User’s creds. should never be shared
    • Industry-standard auth. protocol (OAuth)
    • User must control relationships
  • 37. Canvases
    • 3rd-party content inside your product
    • Technology: Apps & Widgets
  • 38. Service Exposure
    • Make product functionality available as a service when applicable
  • 39. UI Components
    • Build (and make available) UI as components when utilized in 2 or more locations
  • 40. Policy
    • Define SLAs and Commercial TOU
    • Establish rate limits and means of surpassing
    • Communicate status of platform
  • 41. Developer Engagement
    • Privacy/Security
    • Canvas support
    • Service exposure
    • UI Components
    • Policy
  • 42. Platform Design Task List
    • Determine “Open-ness”
    • Define User Leverage model
    • Define Data model
    • Define Developer Engagement model
    1 2 3 4
  • 43. Open Platform One-Sheet UX User Exp. Dev. Exp. Data Model Open Source Open Infrastructure Open Architecture Open Standards Open Ontology Open Access Open Canvas Open Content Open Mic Open Forum Open Door Open Borders Open Identity
  • 44. In Closing
    • Learn more about the Yahoo! Open Strategy: developer.yahoo.com/yos/
    • Contact: Micah Laaker / www.laaker.com [email_address]