Tuesday, September 04, 2007

On Increasingly Sophisticated Social Interfaces

Making social interface usable ...

"In many circles you hear the call of software designers saying “Less is more”. In theory this is a good rallying call, getting designers to really think about each and every feature they add. But in practice it isn’t necessarily true that taking features out of a product, or not adding features to a product, makes it any better. Sometimes, more is more.

This is especially true in social interfaces that model complex social interactions. In some cases there is just no way around it: things are complex and so whatever view we offer into them must have some complexity as well. That doesn’t mean they should be hard-to-use, it just means that they communicate sophisticated information.

Take the reviews on Amazon.com. For years Amazon’s interface showed the average review, so viewers could tell the general mood surrounding a book. If it was a 5 star or a 1 star book, then that would be instantly recognizable.

But over time it became clear that the rating system had a fault: if the average rating was somewhere in the middle, say 3.5 stars, it was unclear whether it was just a dull book that most people rated as mediocre or if it was a polarizing book that half the people rated 5 and half the people rated 1. A political book, for example, usually polarizes.

So the review interface could be made more sophisticated, showing more information about how the reviews for a particular book were distributed. Amazon came up with a nice interface for this:"    (Continued via Bokardo)    [Usability Resources]

Amazon Customer Reviews - Usability, User Interface Design

Amazon Customer Reviews


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