“Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic”
– Arthur C. Clarke
Indeed to a person from a few decades back, the idea of connecting with lost contacts, collaborating across geographical boundaries and obtaining expert advice on a universe of topics, all at the mere click of a mouse would have seemed magical.
Today we live in a world of increased connectivity, more computing power and more social networks. Originating as a fad across college campuses in the
As every individual discovers the power of “communities” and innovative entrepreneurs take notice of latent business opportunities, the question that begs answering is will social networking remain the same, even a few years down the line? Will it become a substitute for the human interaction just as the email has killed the picture postcards? In a culturally diverse country like
The user experience on any social networking site will arise from a set of contributing factors. Each user will find his ideal experience from a unique combination of these contributing factors. So while we do try to create a scenario for the ‘ideal’ user experience, our task should be list out the contributing factors and figure out how they interact with each other, how they can be tweaked for each user.
In trying to understand I tried to list down what I feel would be the contributing factors, please feel free to add on or debate upon any of the existing items. The factors are:
- accessibility – how do I get access to the platform
- UI -- how does it look when I log in and when I am using the platform
- Applications – okay so I have logged in, what do I do now, how engaged am I in the platform and what it has to offer.
- Security – How secure is my profile, my data and what control do I have over this exposure
- Network effect – how many people I know are on the platform, how connected am I with these people
- Diversity of the content – for 500 million people a plain English medium will not suffice nor will they be content with their preferred language
The accessibility is aspect would come into the picture because imagining a broadband penetration in
The apps part will include photo/video sharing, games, quizzes and other forms of content creation. This is an area where I feel lot of futuristic thinking is applicable and our survey findings have revealed insights into the broad fields on which the future apps could/would/should concentrate.
UI will be an important aspect of experience coz while it needs to be crisp and uncluttered it should also bring forth all the functionalities that are present on the platform and there is a potential use of analytics to see what kind of UI should be made available for what kind of user.
In the area of security we might be looking at futuristic account verifications like biometric systems, especially if we are talking about financial transactions happening on the platform.
As mentioned the network effect will involve my interaction with other members of the platform, my friends, family and members of online communities. The concept of collaboration and how futuristic we are in imagining the collaborative levels will determine how we use this factor to create the intended user experience.
Finally, diversity of content is a factor/challenge that is very India-specific because of our cultural diversity. I am looking at multi language support, real time context based translation and other such opportunities.
Unlike what I had set out to do in the beginning, writing about my ideal user experience, I thought this way of looking at the problem might also provide some insights to what we are trying to do.
What I have been unable to accomplish here is to state the interactions between various factors. For example, the more the modes of access, the greater will be the security risks. Similarly I think we can come up with more offsetting scenarios where some sort of compromise has to be struck. If you guys think this approach might lead some where then that would be a potential candidate for further analysis.