One of Indy Hall’s members, Nick Eubanks, interviewed me for his User Experience/SEO blog, asking me a series of questions that really tap into how we’ve applied user experience design to community building offline and how what we’ve learned translates back online.
Below is one of my favorite parts.
The best online experiences focus on serving the behaviors of their audience. How has Indy Hall, as an audience, guided your approach to building an ideal experience?
Being offline gives us a really powerful tool in the fact that we have the ability to let our members co-create the experience. Literally, we design Indy Hall to be very special kind of “incomplete” at every turn with the intention being that our members see that incompleteness as an invitation to be a part of completing it. I liken it to “sanding off the rough edges”.
The power of this is that their experience steps up another level on Maslow’s Pyramid, past simply having a place they can ‘belong’ to a sense of achievement and self-actualization. The ONLY way I think this can be done is by getting people past the level of “attendance” and into the level of “participation.”
This is really hard to do online. Like buttons and share widgets aren’t participation, in fact I think they’re probably worse because they trick people into thinking they are participating, but you’re really just trying to squeeze a little bit of juice out of their attendance.
Be honest with yourself: there’s nothing self-actualizing about clicking a “like” or “share” button.
The closest thing I can think of to a layer of participation in software is something along the lines of being a forum moderator. Mods have a critical participatory role that shapes the experience for themselves and for others. Obviously, a given forum can only have so many moderators, but then Reddit does things like their Gift Exchanges that are HIGHLY participatory, and extraordinarily self-actualizing (even if it’s just in fun).
The takeaway from all of this, though, is that participation is the holy grail. And there’s no point in faking it. Everyone can tell.
No, the irony of the “self actualization of share buttons” comment on a blog plastered with share buttons isn’t lost on me, but Nick asked some good questions that I was happy to have the chance to think through and share. Check out the full interview on his blog.
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