From the Sales Cycle to Innovation Nibbles

Every week I read thousands of blog posts. For your weekend enjoyment, here are some of those highlights. What are you reading this weekend?

02_failure

On Design & Product Experience…

http://www.graphicdesignblog.org/creative-404-error-page-designs/
Welcome the beauty of failure.

Have a great weekend!

Jeremy Horn
The Product Guy

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Somewhat Less Del.icio.us

deliciouslogo_thumb3…because Delicious is synonymous with tagging online. With all of the improvements made within the latest upgrade to Delicious, the functionality and procedures surrounding tagging remain minimally and indirectly altered. Primarily, the changes to Delicious (its domain name included) were limited to desirability and usability (discussed last week), with its usefulness marginally augmented.

Lacking

There were no improvements nor innovations of any parts related to tagging. I look forward to seeing a more innovative stance from Delicious and seeing resolute efforts made to…

  • Encourage and facilitate more tagging,
  • Add structure and order to the tagging process, and
  • Improve the searching, exploration, and discovery process.

By no means are any of these (Delicious) next steps trivial, but rather they are steps (most specifically related to the Usefulness of the product) that will need to be continually presented and refined, by whichever company that desires to be a leader in describing the context and content of the web.

Encourage

Tagging is critical to Delicious. Central to success for a user and to the Delicious community- at- large, is the frequent and descriptive usage of tags. With less tagging, or less accurate tagging, users will have a more difficult time locating older content. With more tagging, users are able to better organize, filter, and find saved and new information. With more tagging, the community will be able to better understand the extent of the existing system-wide knowledge, and how it is evolving, as well as the potential it has for impacting themselves.

Today, Delicious encourages tagging by way of simple user interface presentations, inline editing…

01_inline_edit

…and the display of Popular tags and Recommended tags within the full-screen edit of new content…

02_recommended

In addition, the new Sidebars, by allowing for easier, to both modify and view, access of tags, also facilitate their bundling and usage.

03_sidebars

In some sense Delicious has made tagging a little bit easier to understand, read, and do. Substantial in encouraging any sort of online activity is the simplification of that activity. In this sense, there are many avenues to explore. Some of them being…

Make tag suggestions based on the actual content of the new destination page being submitted to Delicious. Then, let the user select tags they feel are appropriate — it is much easier to click a suggestion, than think up a word and type it (e.g. corrected spelling, finer-tuned additions, alternate similar tags). More information can be coaxed from the user with the simple encouragement via intelligent suggestions, which can be appended to a new (or existing) entry with the click of the mouse.

Infer deeper meta information, again based, on the context of the target page or tags already typed. For example, if the user is typing “New York, ” suggest “state” and “city.” Continuing this example, should the user select “city,” additional geo-tags can then be automatically appended.

Identify potential sub-tags based on the context of the already entered tags, leveraging the power of the crowd, and offer suggestions of tags that are frequently related. If an individual enters the tag “person,” suggest some common types of people. If someone types “person” and “moon,” Delicious may identify the other related tags like “scientist,” “astronaut,” and “astronomer.”

Encourage alternate or corrected tags (spelling, more common or specific descriptors)

Add

The most obvious injection of structure is introduced to the tagging process within the latest update via the orderless tags of the Tag Bar…

04_tagbar

From more structure comes a reduction in the information / content noise. Presenting just a little bit of structure, or means of organization, has a significant impact on the system utility – from the introduction of a minimally common way of thinking and organizing to helping people focus their tagging descriptions and find new information within different, and possibly foreign, domains.

Simple personal structure, like folders and private tags, would have a greater impact upon this goal — and for those people, and there are more than a handful that use multiple Delicious accounts to organize their bookmarks, they would be able to use a single account to accomplish everything (and probably more, especially without the burden of maintaining multiple accounts).

On the non-personal, i.e. public, additions of increased structure, merely a level or two of hierarchical guidance (e.g. tag categories) could exist to help the user quickly zero in on an accurate description of the new content directly resulting in reducing the “strain” on the user to figure out the right tags to assign, as well as letting them come back later and add more details as they occur to the user, all while still being able to filter and zero back in on the item in the future.

Improve

The latest upgrade added the ability for context-based searching and Tag Bar usability enhancements in an effort to improve the searching, exploration, and knowledge discovery processes.

05_search

In the end, this upgrade was quite incremental in nature in so far as the purpose of exploration and discovery are concerned. Here too, knowledge discovery and searching can greatly benefit from an increase in simplification.

Instead of entering, or guessing, one tag at a time, to browse or find content, semi-hierarchical tag clusters, representing concepts and groups of varying scope, could be automatically generated. Individuals would be able to gain broader understanding of the current state of the Delicious environment, the coalescing of tags and ideas, and use them as an alternate means of drilling down.

Another method of simplifying the discovery and search actions can be done through the offering of suggestions for alternate and additional words related to the tags being entered for the search (just like those suggestions that can be made when submitting new content).

Improving the exploration and discovery processes will directly lead to the increased utility and usefulness of Delicious.

…and…

Since Delicious had been acquired by Yahoo (Dec. 2005) change has come very slowly to the product and created a plethora of opportunities within the tagging (and semantic tagging) space that have yet to be fully taken advantage of — but, eventually, either Delicious will choose to lead or other companies, like flickr or twine.

Delicious accomplished a good deal in the way of improving the tagging experience. Now they need to continue, and evolve the functionality of Delicious, (the tagging) and improve the usefulness — lest the mantel for tagging leadership be taken up by other innovators, like flickr, twine, or another up-and-comer.

Share & Enjoy!

Jeremy Horn
The Product Guy

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Somewhat More Del.icio.us

delicious-logo With the delivery of the Delicious version 2.0, 9 months after everyone received the initial sneak peak, also came the formal changing of the product name from del.icio.us to delicious.com (no more funny period punctuation) — making the domain name easier to remember, type, and use.

And this is the theme that enjoyably permeates all aspects of the Delicious upgrade – improving the usability and desirability of everything Delicious. Delicious has made wonderful use of color, contrast, flow, and balance. All this results in simplifying all aspects of interaction, providing more intuitive control, as well as bringing to light features that many, including myself, never knew existed.

As part of bringing to light these “secret” or lesser used features, Delicious has made a serious effort in raising the level of social interaction and sense of community. Wherever you look and interact, there is always a sense of connectedness to other people, from the new look of the bookmarks…

…to more intuitive access to other people’s tags and notes on your bookmarks…

other-peoples-tags

…and the priority level navigation to people…

navigation

… and their networks…

network

Throughout the new UX, from the tag bar to context-based searching to editing bookmarks, everything is zippier (also with less page loading and more ajax) and the interactions much more enjoyable.

Known for tagging

The improvements don’t introduce much in the way of new features or enhancements to the concepts of tagging — but, as I continue to find out, these improvements have brought to light many features that always existed and makes others easier to notice and use. That is why, as I denote in the title, the long awaited upgrade is tagged with ‘somewhat.’ Delicious has been known for its leadership in the tagging of the Internet. Will this leadership continue? Has the mantel already been wrested by fresher upstarts?

Next week, I will continue with part 2 (of 2) of our discussion of Delicious, this latest product update, and look further at how Delicious 2.0 has taken tagging to the next level.

Subscribe now (click here) to make sure you don’t miss any part of this series exploring Delicious 2.0 as well as other upcoming, insightful posts from The Product Guy.

Enjoy!

Jeremy Horn
The Product Guy

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