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6/24/2009
05:58 PM
Ben Kepes
Ben Kepes
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How to Build Collaborative Software That People Will Actually Use

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Cross-posted from CloudAve by Ben Kepes. Gentry Underwood, the head of Knowledge sharing at design house IDEO claims that designing solutions that work requires finding the triggers that drive individual motivation. Designing simplicity and intuitiveness into the UI and building the solution to integrate into existing workflows.The very structures we use to handle scale as organizations grow inhibit collaboration and knowledge sharing while the hierarchies inherent within organisations encourage silos. Many organizations that try to use technology to facilitate knowledge sharing and collaboration don''t see much ROI and a thought that is close to my heart, think about the people - it''s not just about the technology. In the past IDEO experimented with always-on video conferencing, called "wormholes".Think about connections - people pages aren't about social networking-- it's about pointing people to people (who hold the knowledge and projects).Five principles for collaborative tools that work.
  1. Build pointers to people
  2. Reward individual participation
  3. Demand intuitive interfaces
  4. Take the road more travelled - take advantage of the path of least resistance: give users options but use the default to your advantage
  5. Iterate early and often
At IDEO they release a new version of their intranet every Thursday - agile is a way of life for them. Don''t just prototype interfaces -- prototype social interactions and workflow

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