We have been collecting information about our users and from our users from the time that the site went live in 1999. User Centered Design (UCD) has always been a fundamental design principle and has contributed to a lot of the successes and awards the site has enjoyed.
We began to receive feedback about social tooling, or should I say, the desire on the part of our user base to interact with the content in some way, as early as 2003. Our early attempts at responding to these needs was to implement forums, blogs and wikis. Over the years we have found that the forums are by far the most popular collaboration venue. It is the place where users come to find answers to their day to day problems. Seems like a no-brainer when stated, but we realized that repeat visits and traction was likely to happen at a higher concentration level when immediate needs were met.
Jump to 2006, when the social networking explosion was well past the hype cycle. The application that a certain Mark Zuckerberg worked on so that he and his friends could rate the women at Harvard for looks had blossomed into the benchmark for user interaction features and functions. Tim O'Reilly's coining of Web 2.0 was now studied, practiced and widely adopted.
There was a fundamental shift in the way that people behaved online. There was a basic paradigm shift in offerings, and people expected more.
Having conducted our experiments with base offerings where users could interact, we heard from our users a stated desire to have social tooling wrapped around our most high value offerings - our technical content. While it was useful to have forums where they could talk to each other, and to have blogs where we could get experts opining, there was a divide between the technical content and the 'community content'. It was time to close the chasm and work towards an integrated environment that allowed users to interact with content wherever it was.
Over the last year and a half we have been working on dissolving this distinction. In subsequent posts I will talk about the two initiatives that will be our focus over the next eighteen months:
The new article design
The MydeveloperWorks initiative.
Why move towards social tooling?
brenny 110000SGFR Tags:  personalization social-tools developerworks social-media 1 Comment 1,678 Visits