Still Unsocial

Illustration by Andre Metzger
Illustration by Andre Metzger

The internet “the old Web 2.0” is all about communication and openness, right? Hrm, I wonder why it is so hard to communicate and be open using it’s tools? Another great post on FC form Robert Scoble sighting Kevin Lynch, Adobe‘s CTO, form the company’s annual developers event. I will just regurgitate it here:

“Please say who you are, what you do, and how the Web is screwed up.” How’s that for an icebreaker? That was the way Kevin Lynch, Adobe’s CTO, grabbed his audience at the company’s annual developers event this year, throwing open a discussion about what we don’t like about the Web and what we’d like to see fixed.

My biggest problem with the Web? For all the cool things we can do, Internet breakthroughs don’t play well together — or even talk to one another. Ironic, no? The Internet, which is shorthand for “interconnected network” and is one of the most significant achievements in the history of communication, is often broken because applications don’t interact. We spend all our time hopping from one island of information to another, repeating the same tasks, costing ourselves and our businesses time and money. The good news is that, even as I complain, there are efforts under way to make things better.

Think about passwords — for your bank and your blog, Facebook and photo sharing, and on and on. We all know they are a pain to keep track of. Microsoft tried to fix this problem years ago — remember Passport? (shudder) — but people freaked because it was big, bad Bill Gates trying to take your Web data.

What’s going to save us from user name and password fatigue? OpenID. An open-source technology that gives users a portable, secure account, OpenID is accepted so far by almost 10,000 sites, and a grassroots effort has bubbled up such that Google and, yes, Microsoft are among its supporters. Site operators who add OpenID will save users frustration — and save themselves money, because they won’t lose customers for no good reason.

Let’s go beyond passwords. Imagine having to create basic information — such as your contact particulars, calendar items, and so forth — only once, and then reusing these bits as needed around the Web. That’s the formatting promise behind the so-called semantic Web. It’s great to see this initiative being embraced by the likes of Amazon and Yahoo!. But it’s hardly ubiquitous — yet.

None of that will cure my headache with the Web 2.0 community. If you use more than one social tool and want to change some universal bit of personal data, you have to update over and over at each service. Want to change your email address or photo and then notify your friends about the update? Put on a pot of coffee and set aside an afternoon.

I get why fierce rivals like MySpace and Facebook don’t want to cooperate. But a number of the social tools Yahoo has under its own umbrella — Flickr‘s photo sharing, Upcoming’s events calendar, Del.icio.us‘s bookmarks, Bix‘s contests — don’t even communicate with one another.

Thankfully, the folks over at DataPortability.org are working with social-networking outfits to get them to adopt the existing technologies that will let users share data between sites. But it’s not going to be easy. I got into a bit of trouble with Facebook not too long ago when I experimented with an unreleased tool from Plaxo, a popular online address book and calendar. The app pulled names, email addresses, and birthdays from the profiles of my Facebook friends to see if they’re also Plaxo members. Facebook kicked me off (but later reactivated my account).

That kind of nonsense is wearying and expensive. The Internet has already exploded many notions about business. It’s time that we stop hoarding customers and their information in silos for fear of them straying. If you love them, set them free.

Spot on… All these social tools that supposedly are for communication fighting to be closed. Is there something wrong with this picture? Need to find a happy medium here, where the person (user) can move seamlessly between different niche social networks/apps. It will benefit all in the end. Will lead to more use and open for more communication. Seriously don’t hold on to a old business model while trying to push the envelope with new innovation. Don’t forget to support technology you feel will help solve this closed world. Talking will make a difference…

What are your thoughts on the subject?

What listening can(should) do…

Admiration to companies that listen to their customers/users and make the experience (web site, service, product) better based on this. It takes a smart and humble company… but all should. It is only logical, right? This is what the evolution of the web is… communication both ways. And then reaction to make the experience/service/product better.

Found two cases – two completely different markets and purposes and methods – on the use of such tactics – form Get Elastic and Creuna (sorry this one is only in Swedish for now).

Get Elastic Outtake:

Customer Feedback Inspires Eddie Bauer Redesignby Linda Bustos
Eddie Bauer recently revamped its online store design using customer feedback. At first glance, it’s hard to see much difference other than the doesn’t look like much has really changed. But when you look under the hood, you find Eddie Bauer’s packed its new site with plenty of Web 2.0 to improve usability and customer satisfaction.

Before

Old Eddie Bauer Design

After

New Eddie Bauer Design

And the product presentation – brilliant in name and function…

Eddie Bauer calls this “virtually picking up” an item, and “putting it down” to continue browsing that category.

After

 

Virtual Pick Up

Before

Old Product Page Layout

The favorite – a consumer friendly shopping bag with great options and cross-selling.

Eddie Bauer’s “Add to Shopping Bag” confirmation gives full details of which item, size and color was added, the price, availability (in stock), cross-sells and links to check out, “>continue shopping or add a gift box. Trust me, I’ve looked at hundreds of “add to cart” confirmation methods, and I really dig this one.

Add to Shopping Bag

The revamped cart page has larger product thumbnails, tax and shipping calculations and holds items in your cart for weeks, so if you abandon your cart, you don’t have to start over (a.k.a. “persistent shopping cart”.)

Shopping Bag Layout

Must say, one of the best e-shop i have use… Feels like they have thought of everything… forgot, their customers did 😉

Check out the site here – www.eddiebauer.com

Creuna Outtake:

Stockholm stad remake

Offentligt i världsklass

Creuna och Stockholms stad har ett strategiskt partnerskap kring Stockholm Webb, som innefattar den stadsgemensamma intranätslösningen och www.stockholm.se. Creuna har arbetat med Stockholms stad sedan 2005 med koncept och interaktionsdesign för båda webbplatserna, användarstudier, fokusgrupper, webbutveckling, integration, redaktörsutbildningar, funktionell och teknisk förvaltning samt tekniska förstudier inför satsningen på e-tjänster för medborgarna.
Stockholm.se
Beta-version av nya stockholm.se växer fram successivt under våren. Under tiden den nya sajten tar sin fulla skepnad finns gamla stockholm.se kvar. Med den öppna utvecklingsprocessen ges chansen att involvera stockholmarna i slutresultatet.

Creuna har arbetat fram koncept, interaktionsdesign och form och gör även utvecklingen. För att skapa förutsättningar för kommande e-tjänster till medborgarna används den senaste tekniken och funktionaliteten inom området. Nya stockholm.se följer WAI och Vervas riktlinjer för tillgänglighet.

Utvecklingen av nya stockholm.se sker med starkt fokus på medborgarna. Fokusgrupper har genomförts på ett tidigt stadium för att utforma interaktionsdesign och struktur.

Webbplatsen utvecklas i en öppen utvecklingsmiljö med en beta-version där medborgarna ges möjlighet att spela en viktig roll i utformningen. Kommunikationen sker via utvecklingsbloggen för Stockholm.se.

Here we have a very interesting way of developing a new site with the help of the users/citizence. For a public service site such for Stockholm city this is defiantly the way to go – get the users/citiceze involved in the process and make them feel as a contributing part of the project. Benificial for both parties and seriously good for the bottom line. If managed right you will end up with a great site.

Stockholm stad entery page

While the new site is under construction the old one lives but with clear CTA to take part int the development of the new.

Stockholm stad dev main page

The main page of the developing site. Here you get info on what this all is about with some nice animation. Your are encouraged to click around (the site in development) and enticed to take part in the development thought the blog. It also shows in percentage how far the project is as well which is a nice feature.

Stockholm stad dev blog

And the blog page or conversation page as they call this. Here one can follow the story, get more info, vote and take part. The posts generally asks the user to comment and give feedback.

This is a great example on how to make a new site with user input through the whole process. Again the way to do it… Great show Creuna. If you live in Stockholm and know Swedish check this out and take part…

As you see some great effects of customer/user feedback. Now let us all be wise and adapt…