Chapter 7. Designing for People

Building a website that people use socially is quite different from building desktop software or service-based websites. Desktop software has a model that traditionally serves a single person to complete a set task. Service-based websites follow a similar model.

Interaction design provides an underlying methodology that helps to shape social software applications with contributions from many other areas. This type of design work is the main differentiator between applications in a similar area, as there can be many ways to approach the same task. This chapter will look at how creating social applications differs from creating other software, and will explain how to run these kinds of projects. The chapter also explores some new methodologies for creating applications based on Activity Theory and the social object. The chapter ends with some guidelines for and examples of designing social applications. It is often said that the quality of an application is in the details; this is the chapter for those details. Dive in!


A site design is the combination of the site’s content and activity, so simply copying the design of another site for use in your site will not work. A real estate site modeled after Flickr, for example, will not work, even though both would be using photography. Modeling your site after a “popular site” is not a good starting position: you can borrow subelements from that site, but not the entire site. Being influenced is different ...

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