I’m lucky enough to be doing some concepting and interaction design work for a social web site. This presented me with the opportunity to integrate some stuff I found while reading on social software, and the web as platform/network. Here’s how I’ve been integrating some of it.
I was inspired by the concept model of the Flickr ecosystem I saw in Luke Wroblewski’s presentation on social interaction design (which was done by Bryce Glass) to try and create one myself. Coincidentally there’s a whole chapter in Dan Brown’s book (which Peter was smart enough to purchase and was lying around the office) on creating concept models.
One of the things I wanted to do is make the site play nice with the web of data. To that end, I decided to apply Tom Coates’ 3 basic page types to the design of the site. So what I did was first create a concept model (of course following some research of the site’s business and user goals) and then look at the nouns and verbs in the model. For each noun I created a single object view page and a list view page. For each verb I created a manipulation interface page. Of course, all list type pages would get RSS feeds in the eventual site.
For instance if you have a model that states ‘Reviewer rates Book’ then you’d end up with a page for each reviewer and book, a page to list reviewers, a page to list books and a manipulation interface for rating a book.
Doing this resulted in a nice list of pages that I could then analyse for completeness and/or redundancy. Of course this only works if your concept model accurately reflects what the site should achieve. If your model sucks, your list of pages will too.
Another caveat lies in the fact that a concept model tends to be very effective for mapping the functional aspects of a site, but not very suitable for creating an overview of its content (which is often more push oriented). If the kind of site you’re creating involves more information architecture than interaction design you might want to do some additional content inventory work and fold that into the page list.
One last challenge would be organizing these pages in a coherent whole (beyond coupling lists to single items to interfaces). I can imagine I’d attempt some card sorting to achieve that.
Finally, for creating the concept model I used the specialized (and free) tool CmapTools which is pretty nice in that it goes beyond visually modelling the concepts but actually tracking the statements you implicitly make when linking concepts to each other.
Anyone else have experience with trying to integrate some of the stuff Coates was talking about in their design of a site?