Designing Social Interfaces

Erin Malone (Tangible UX), Christian Crumlish (AOL)
Location: 2010 Level:
Presentation: external link
Average rating: ***..
(3.10, 21 ratings)

Designing social websites and applications or adding a social dimension to an existing project entails its own unique challenges way beyond those involved in creating experiences for individuals interacting alone with an interface. Any of the following sound familiar?

  • I’m a designer being asked to add “social” to my site!
  • I have an active community on my site but people are misbehaving. How can I get that under control?
  • We want to build a really cool social experience around [thingy] but we’re not sure how to get people to come join the fun.
  • I have a great idea for a social utility but I don’t want to have to first re-create the social infrastructure of the web inside of it.
  • People come and read my content, but they’re invisible to each other. How can I peel away the layers so they can participate with each other?
  • I’m worried I’m missing an opportunity to help my members connect with each other in the real world.

In this 3 hour workshop, we’ll address these challenges and more. You’ll explore the landscape of social user experience design patterns and anti-patterns, focusing on the contexts in which specific interface designs work well and the unintended consequences that make some UI ideas seem like a good idea until they turn around and bite you in your app.

Starting with a foundational set of high-level practices that underpin the individual interaction, Erin and Christian will present rules and tips for how to mix-and-match the individual social patterns and best practices to create compelling social experiences. Workshop activities will involve group discussions and sketching to explore the application of social interaction patterns to specific scenarios.

Who is this workshop for?

Designers, developers, architects and product specialists all need to work together to create compelling social experiences online and this workshop will be relevant to anyone who has to plan, design, build, or bring to market social websites and applications.

What will you learn?

By the end of this very full day you will be able to

  • understand, visualize, and communicate clearly about the social
  • design landscape apply a set of core social design principles to a wide variety of contexts
  • create models for the representation of people and social objects in your app
  • add social features intelligently (and incrementally) to an existing site
  • design reputation features to enable the type of community (competitive? collaborative? somewhere in between?) you want
  • enable sharing and engage organic word-of-mouth growth to launch your project
  • embrace openness and leverage the existing open social infrastructure of the web
  • introduce representations of presence into an experience so that your users can find and relate to each other
  • tie your virtual experiences to the real world in space and time by connecting to maps, geolocation, and calendaring tools
  • figure out an enterprise social media strategy for your client, boss, or startup
Photo of Erin Malone

Erin Malone

Tangible UX

Erin Malone, Principal with Tangible ux, has over 20 years of experience leading design teams and developing social experiences for web and software. Prior to Tangible, she spent 4+ years at Yahoo! leading the Platform User Experience Design team where they were responsible for Community products and platforms, for helping develop the Yahoo! Open Strategy, including its social offerings, building the Yahoo! Design Pattern Library and for providing design expertise to the popular YUI (Yahoo! User Interface Library). Additionally, she led the redesign of the Yahoo! Developer Network, oversaw the redesign of Yahoo!’s registration system, and worked on cross-company initiatives. Before Yahoo!, she was a Design Director at AOL responsible for community applications, Creative Director at AltaVista and chief Information Architect for Zip2. She was the founding editor-in-chief of Boxes and Arrows and author of several articles on interaction design history and design.

She is coauthor the book Designing Social Interfaces with Christian Crumlish for O’Reilly Media.

Photo of Christian Crumlish

Christian Crumlish


Christian Crumlish has been participating in, analyzing, designing, and drawing social interactive spaces online since 1994. These days he is the curator of Yahoo!’s pattern library, a design evangelist with the Yahoo! Developer Network, and a member of Yahoo!’s Design Council. He is a director of the Information Architecture Institute and co-chair of the monthly BayCHI program.

He is the author of the bestselling The Internet for Busy People, and The Power of Many, and co-author most recently of Designing Social Interfaces with Erin Malone. He has spoken about social patterns at BarCamp Block, BayCHI, South by Southwest, the IA Summit, Ignite, Web 2.0 Expo, PLoP, IDEA, and Web Directions. Christian has a bachelor’s degree in philosophy from Princeton.

He lives in Oakland with his wife Briggs, his cat Fraidy, and his electric ukulele, Evangeline.

Comments on this page are now closed.


Picture of Stephen Shelton
Stephen Shelton
05/06/2010 7:58am PDT

Liked the group participation/thought development. Bought the book for my team. Thanks.

Jorge Ochoa-Lions
05/05/2010 7:57am PDT

Very good presentation, with rich usable information. I purchased the book. Very valuable. The exercise made the concepts very real - Brilliant - even if the audience was somewhat reluctant to engage at first.

Picture of Erin Malone
Erin Malone
05/04/2010 12:22pm PDT

Thanks for the feedback. The room definitely had much to be desired in terms of logistics. I used the cards in NY to help facilitate conversations because of the layout and thought it would work in SF too.

You are correct about the preso being one-sided. We had originally intended the preso to be both of us, then I told the Web 2.0 folks it would be just me but they never changed the details.

I hope you were able to catch Christian’s talk this morning.

Picture of Michael Boor
Michael Boor
05/04/2010 10:00am PDT

Great content but the cards/group discussions were a problem because of the room logistics. Also the presentation was a bit one-sided and was interested in hearing something from Christian. Bought the book though since it is a “must-have.”

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