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Evolving sites – tech-volution

Reading Robert Scoble ‘s friend feed conversation list, he posted a notice that got some traffic regarding the use of twitter as a conversations tool

His argument was that twitter was not and should not be used as a tool for conversations, but more for ‘announcements’. Now his argument is not without merit, if you follow many followers or take your eye of your twitter app for a second then you can quickly lose the conversation thread, however he seems to be implying that you should not use twitter in this way, full stop. Problem with that is his argument suggests that there is a set if rules for using twitter and these should be followed by all users, this is wrong, for twitter and all other products or services being developed. There are no rules there are however behavious patterns that define how users adapt a service to their needs, and its this that makes the web(2.0?).

If twitter or any service is to survive then it has to evolve, just like people.

Argument is as follows:

As you build a site( for site you can substitute webapp /service /product/whatever but I’ll use app for ease of use) you have an idea of the users that you need to talk to. If your smart you talk to these users and ask them what they want, try to use this to identify what they actually need and design a solution that fits this need, you of course test it with representatives of these users and make adaptations to the site before go live.

On go-live you are confident you have a successful site in the making and sit back, update content maybe add functionality in later phases of the site as per the development roadmap and generally watch the site grow.

Trouble is the users evolve, they mature in their use of your site , their needs develop as they get comfortable they develop new ways of using the what you have delivered in ways you never considered, and, if you don’t adapt to these needs then your site will whither and die, and your visitors find a new site that fits their new behaviour better.

you need to monitor how your users try to *abuse* the functionality you have supplied and adapt the site to make it easier for them to achieve their new activity.

This is <tech-volution /> (yes i made this up)

So back to the original point, and Roberts assumption that Twitter is to say that twitter is not for conversations, this is a mistake and I’m afraid, wrong, if this where true then no-one would use twitter for conversations, the problems with using the service in this way would make it unusable, in the same way as you don’t use a fork to eat soup.

Twitter may not be ideal for conversations , it may be tricky but its not wrong, and it would not surprise me to hear that the folks at twitter are planning spend some of their $50 million to release new features for the service that allows threading for conversations, that is if tweetdeck or twhirl (insert twitter client here) don’t get there first,

That’s tech-volution.

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Content is still king

We spend a lot of time considering the technology of a particular site, customers are always keen to point out the fact that they ‘need’ features and functions to make their site ‘useful’ and attract users, plans involve the development and design of forums, blogs and web 2.0 features that are a must for the new site that will move them into the 21st century, and then as a by line there is content …

I forwarded an article from giraffe forums, which was later twittered to the community regarding the importance of content in the procurement of a CMS for any organisation. it suggested that migration of old content into a new CMS and web design, with the added function and features that a new system offers, but the same content, will effectively achieve nothing,

Content makes a site.

It should be thoughtfully written with the reader in mind and use language that they can will understand, use common language, and avoid industry acronyms.

It should be long enough to inform the reader, but not so long that they don’t want to read the piece. Add a ‘contact us’ link so that the reader can get in touch should they need more information.

Structure the content in a sympathetic manner, the reader dies not know your companies internal structure and probably doesn’t care, structure content in way that the reader will expect.

In a recent thread on the information architects institute mail list, the procurement of a CMS was again the subject of discussion, in this thread, one contributor suggested that the IA focus on the ‘Goals’ of the CMS rather than the features, again positioning the procurement away from the technology and more towards the desired effect.

Informing the user, allowing them to interact with the content and thus the organisation,

Web2.0 is about user generated content not technology, so don’t muddy the waters with unnecessary features, moderate them to the user, what they need and how they expect to be able to interact with you.