zondag 19 maart 2006

Embedded observation

Danah Boyd is so right, especially when she says that "customer service is not a segregated group who simply answers questions of a finalized product." It's a lesson every company should learn, there's so much to win if you do this right. She calls it 'embedded observation'.

"These three sites (Craigslist, Flickr and MySpace) have many attributes in common. They all grew organically. They each have public personalities that early adopters feel connected to. The early adopters really felt as though they were participating in and creating an intimate community, even as the community grew to millions. Users are passionate. Designers are passionate. They feel a responsibility to it and are deeply invested in making users happy. Character was not boiled out of the site; the text on the system is natural and goofy, reflecting the personality quirks of the developers rather than the formal speech of a corporation. Each site has a unique culture that was born early on and evolved through years of use and growth. The culture evolves with the designers and users working in tandem.

Customer service is not a segregated group who simply answers questions of a finalized product. They are completely integrated into the design system and the senior people are the most deeply embedded in user culture. There is a strong commitment to the needs and desires of the users.

While the creators have visions of what they think would be cool, they do not construct unmovable roadmaps well into the future. They are constantly reacting to what's going on, adding new features as needed. The code on these sites changes constantly, not just once a quarter. The designers try out features and watch how they get used. If no one is interested, that's fine - they'll just make something new. They are all deeply in touch with what people are actually doing, why and how it manifests itself on the site."

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