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Design for Community: The Art of Connecting…

Design for Community: The Art of Connecting Real People in Virtual Places

by Derek M. Powazek

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Recommended by Francois Jordaan
  nico_macdonald | Jan 6, 2010 |
one of the best books, to do, on building community on the web. Unlike Amy Jo Kim's book, Powazek focuses more on blogs and web 2.0-based community, but the book still predates much of what is now current. ( )
  jewishwomensarchive | Mar 12, 2008 |
I'm in the process of retooling an online community myself, and Design for Community has given me a lot to think about. It's extremely useful. No one should try to build an online community without reading this book first.
While it is not difficult to find the software tools required to build an online community, experience and insight is harder to come by. Powazek draws examples from his own work and interviews some of the leading lights of online communities to show what has worked, what doesn't, and what you should look out for.

This book invites its readers to ask themselves some questions about the online communities they want to build. Why do you want to build it? What are you trying to accomplish? What relationship do you want to have with your visitors? And how do you plan to keep order, maintain decorum, and enforce the community's rules? These are questions, I'm afraid, that many webmasters and site owners have simply never asked themselves, and boy does it ever show.

Case in point: In my very, very small corner of the web, just about everybody with a small home-based business and a two-bit web site wants to set up a mailing list or discussion board to go along with it. They don't appear to have done much thinking about it, apart from a vague notion that a forum would be cool and would draw traffic to their site. In fact, the biggest site/portal in the subculture I inhabit sells itself by saying that its discussion forums draw traffic to the hobbyist/small-business home pages it hosts and the advertising it sells -- i.e., its forums are its content. Meanwhile, the quality and tone of discussion on those forums is a constant source of grief. These people need to read this book.

(Posted to Amazon.com on February 1, 2002) ( )
  mcwetboy | Jul 16, 2006 |
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Amazon.com Amazon.com Review (ISBN 0735710759, Paperback)

In light of recent world events, many people have been reaching out for the sort of closeness and supportive reassurances that can come from friends "met" in online communities. In an article written for TechTV.com, Design for Community author Derek M. Powazek notes that in the days following September 11 new sites sprang up and message board activity went through the roof. Message boards and chatrooms allowed people to connect with others--so crucial in times of trouble--to share breaking news, find ways to help, or post personal stories.

Of course, online communities are not only for the bad times: Web stores feature user-posted reviews, bulletin boards build up around all types of issues or shared experiences, celebrities answer questions in live chat sessions, and singles with Web cams check each other out.

"Web communities happen when users are given tools to use their voice in a public and immediate way, forming intimate relationships over time." Powazek should know; he created Fray.com and Kvetch.com and has acted as a consultant on Web community features for Netscape, Lotus, and Sony. Design for Community offers thorough (and entertaining) discussions on all aspects of building and maintaining a Web-based community. There are chapters on choosing content (including Powazek's recipe for encouraging positive communities), designing ("How do you present a discussion system that encourages friendly conversation?"), deciding on the backend technology necessary to run a site (whether server-side software or free Web-based tools), setting up rules, hosting, moderating, and even someday "killing" your community.

Each chapter features an interview with an expert, like Steven Johnson of Plastic.com on design and Emma Taylor, host of Nervecenter.com, a "community of thoughtful hedonists," on setting barriers and enforcing rules. Powazek maintains a companion site for this book at Designforcommunity.com, with excerpts, more essays, and, of course, a forum for discussion. If you're even considering building an online community, you must begin with this book. --Angelynn Grant

(retrieved from Amazon Mon, 30 Sep 2013 14:18:50 -0400)

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