KISS, Shirsky’s Law and Social Software Adoption

Keep It Simple Stupid.

In life

In love

In social media software development.

I came across Shirksy’s Law on the web which states:


Shirky’s Law states that the social software most likely to succeed has “a brutally simple mental model … that’s shared by all users”.

I am seeing more and more vendors come out with very developed social media platforms…and they are now becoming too complex.  Although many software vendors are on version 2.0 (or more), many enterprise users are still at 1.0:  trying to figure out not only how this can be integrated in their day to day activities, but what the ‘heck and blog is’.

Over at Bosacks Archive they interviewed Clay Shirsky.  Here is an interesting quote from that interview:

The shift is from thinking about the computer as a box to thinking of the computer as a door, and nobody wants a door with 37 handles. Twitter has six features, and it launched with only one. A brutally simple mental model of the software that’s shared by all users turns out to be a better predictor of adoption and value than a completely crazy collection of features that ends up being slightly different for every user.

Although the 37 handles will eventually be valuable to an organization…it can be overwhelming for the first time user.  As someone who helps roll-out communities, it makes my job more difficult for adoption.  There is too much for a new user to take in.  So, I end of slimming down the software myself which does not always give the user the best experience.

Maybe it is time to rethink the audience and what are there goals.  You don’t need to “feed the world” on day one…just feed one family at a time.

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