Joshua Schachter at The Future Of Web Apps summit
Joshua Schachter kicks off the show. He’s not going to talk about tagging, as was advertised. Instead, he’s talking about things he learned while building del.icio.us.
It’s all good advice. Check every SQL query. Use indices well. Know the ins and outs of Apache. Don’t expose your unique IDs: people will abuse that.
Don’t build every feature that people ask for: build what they really need.
Don’t do those beta sign-ups to build hype.
Attention. Decide if you want to keep things on topic or fragment into different areas of attention. Spam is attention theft. Don’t let spammers know that they’ve been caught: don’t give them meaningful error messages. Let them think that everything is working fine for them.
Tagging. It’s a user interface. A way of storing what you thought at the time. Not all metadata is tags. Don’t let people autofill tags. Some effort is required: a minimum amount but some.
Effort. Allocate your time well. Don’t spend too much time on an insignificant feature.
Measurement. Constantly check the numbers. Measure the system and how users are using it. It’s important to measure behaviour rather than claims: don’t rely on ratings, for example.
Testing. Make sure your testing corresponds to how your users are using the system. Make sure everyone is involved in the testing: if someone wasn’t there, they won’t believe the results. Don’t just give users goals: it will alter their behaviour.
Language. Speak the user’s language. Don’t make them speak your language: you will drive them away (e.g. most people know bookmarks as favourites).
Registration. Allow people to do a lot before they must register. Then they’ll know what they’re getting. People are wary of giving out their email; rightly so. It’s not enough to tell them; you must show them. Make the registration process as quick as possible and send people straight back to what they were doing before.
Design Grammar. Use conventions. Logo in the corner, breadcrumb trail at the top, etc.
Morals. It’s the user’s data, not your data. Let people take their data away if they want to.
Infection. How to promote your system. Del.icio.us didn’t spend a penny on promotion. It was all grassroots evangelism by users. “Look for viral vectors”, he said. Damn! I missed those buzzwords.
Community. Don’t talk about community unless that’s really what you’re trying to do. Del.icio.us doesn’t try to own the community (threads, flame wars, etc.). The community exists outside of the site.
He’s done. That was good, practical advice: I could put some of it into practice over at The Session.