Wednesday, August 24, 2005

Group Profiles in my dreams

I've been living in storyboard land recently. I am the lead information architect on Gatheroo. That means I am designing all of its navigation and workflows - the user experience, really.

Though we are focusing tightly on what we believe to be our primary audience - people in groups - we want to weave a sense of fun through Gatheroo in a way not unlike Myspace, only with a vastly superior UI. That is, users will be able to talk to eachother via private messages, message boards, comments and list entries, upload photos, keep a friends list and of course, tag everything on the site.

The more I think of the term "online community" the more I believe it should incorporate tools for people to contact eachother directly, like Myspace, while providing ways to manage public and private calendars, events and ways to confer on venue selection. Yahoo is attempting to do this via the incorporation of Yahoo 360, Flickr, and Yahoo Groups, but for my money, it is still difficult to love the user experience there. It just isn't easy to meet people online, and then meet them in person. Or meet people offline, and then use the tool to organize and expand the group.

I am seeing plenty of sites that tackle a piece of the puzzle - the amazon funded, 43 Things and its sister site 43 Places, Linked In, Dinner Buzz, and of course Delicious, but none of them really take a stab at connecting the users through a powerul set of shared tools. Enter Gatheroo. We hope are attempting to cultivate the best features of all of the above and then some...while building in some fun. Hmmmm....

It's easily the most challenging IA work I have done. When we reach our projected beta release in mid-november, I hope you will be pleased with what we have come up with. In the meantime, all user requirements are welcome.



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