I am currently working on the suite of patterns around joining social sites. the patterns start with registration and then include, sign in, sign in continuity, welcome area, receive invitation, send invitation, sign out, private beta and the password anti-pattern.
it’s been interesting writing these. my team at yahoo! worked on the registration redesign last year and was also responsible for the sign-in forms and other pages related to this. since y! only has one registration form and one sign in page – centrally hosted – we never wrote up these interactions as patterns. but i think i have done a good job translating everything we learned into principles and best practices for the pattern since we did so much testing as well as analysis of the log files and pathing.
i have also tried to fold in lessons learned and trends in simplification that I have been seeing across the web with the current crop of social sites.
but I think the most enlightening thing for me when writing these as a collection was how much of this set of interactions is intending to mirror real-life social activities and norms. Inviting someone to join a site – whether through some automation or through a personal invitiation – is like inviting someone to your home. It may be an apartment or a house in a neighborhood – but there are interactions with other people, there are private and public spaces.
As a site owner, you have to welcome your guests as you would to your home, you need to provide a framework for interactions between guests, as you would when having a dinner party or other social gathering. you hope that some people know each other so the conversations are not strained or hostile. shared interests definitely help keep the conversations lively and having something to talk about or interact around also helps keep it interesting.
And what happens when someone comes knocking and asks to join without first being invited – the early adopter? how are they welcomed, how do they join a community that doesn’t actually exist yet? Are they comparable to the homesteaders who made their way across the country to set up home and communities? what kind of tools do they get that may be different from someone who moves in after the town is already established?
I think I have it fairly fleshed out in terms of the mechanics of the interactions but the societal implications and influences that come from one interaction decision versus another is something to continue exploring as I flesh out this set of patterns.