How to choose what to make
If getting people to make things is our primary goal, then projects are our main vehicle to get there. Projects should be understood at a glance. A user should be able to scan the page and know what projects are aligned with their interests. To do this, we need to help the user set clear expectations around questions such as:
- how is it similar or different from the other projects?
- what might the experience of making it feel like?
- does it fill the need of the thing I want to make?
- does it inspire new ideas in me?
As we continue to build out projects on our end, and especially once users begin making their own, these considerations will need to be something we figure out how to best signal.
User Generated Discovery Paths
One of the problems in the current design is that it treats project discovery as a linear process. The issue with this is that the creative process doesn’t work like that, and is rather a much more organic, iterative process.
Users should be able to browse and preview a large number of projects before they chose one to make, and instead of being met with a dead-end at each project preview, they should be presented with a variety of paths to continue down, emphasizing the process of interest-based discovery.
Sites like ffffound.com have been wildly successful and have been emulated with great success by sites like svpply.com and pinterest.com using a simple but effective pattern centred around user generated discovery flow. With each successive click, the user narrows in on a closer approximation of what it is they are looking for. Similar to Amazon’s recommendation engine, user generated discovery flow presents material closely associated with the user’s interest, while opening up new doors of possibility at the same time.
Act now. Or later
As users surf between projects they should be able to grab what’s interesting to them without interrupting their flow.
- share = not for me, but I know someone its perfect for
- preview = this sounds interesting, what does it look like live on the web
- save = add the project to a sort of ‘make-later’ list
For users who are ready to make something, they should be able to do so with one click. ‘Remix’ would open the project up in either Thimble or Popcorn (or whatever tool the project was made in)
With the introduction of user accounts, much of the discovery will be centred around things that other people have made. Each project should also display who has remixed it, who has saved it, and what some similar projects are.
These factors become criteria for makability and help users evaluate how good each project is for their specific needs. Things that will be of relevance to the user when browsing projects will be:
- Who made it?
- Who saved / remixed it?
- What are they into?
- How involved / engaged are they in the community
- What’s their experience?
Notes and Feedback
Comments and feedback can be posted here: https://etherpad.mozilla.org/thinkingthroughdesign
Note: Background image is used for placeholder purposes only, and was grabbed from Mark Weaver’s Dribbble page. Original can be found here: http://dribbble.com/shots/122414-Dribbble-053