9 Best Practices for Social Applications
We came across the Google best practices via Sexy Widget. And, as with the previous post (5 Questions to Ask When Selecting a Widget Platform), here are the first three items. Visit Google for the complete list.
1. Engage Quickly
Across containers, there’s a common tendency for a user to take a chance on an unknown application, and shortly thereafter remove it if no immediate value is found. The lesson to be learned from this interaction is that first impressions really do matter, and it’s necessary to engage the user quickly before attention is lost. To this end, we suggest you focus on the 30-second experience; before distracting the user with expert features or sending invites, slow down and give the user a simpler taste of what your application is about. Try the following:
- Show value and identity by making the purpose and core features of your application absolutely clear.
- Populate the application with fun or interesting content (especially content from friends) that makes for a browse-friendly experience.
- Make it easy for the user to add content, change settings and feel ownership of the application. This increases a user’s desire to keep the application on his/her profile.
2. Mimic Look and Feel
Across OpenSocial containers there can be a lot of variation in the look and feel of pages and profiles. When designing your application, it can help to attempt consistency with the container UI by using similar fonts, tabs and buttons.
In cases where applications strive for stronger identity, it can be good to create a UI look and feel which is slightly distinct but still aesthetically strong to play on a user’s tastes and need for self expression.
3. Enable Self Expression
The profile page in a container is often a representation of a user’s identity, interests and tastes. From the perspective of the owner, it’s a means for self expression and a starting point for exploring the social graph. From the perspective of viewers, it’s a place to learn, communicate, and find shared interests. Applications best take advantage of the profile by enabling self expression through common interests around entertainment, brands and groups. Self expression is also enabled through specific forms of communication like gestures and gifts or conversations around special topics.
Don’t forget our own 10 Things to Consider When Building Widgets.