Creating a complete online user experience

Paul Boag

I have been thinking a lot about social media recently. In fact it has become a bit of an obsession.

The advice I used to give my clients sucked. It was superficial, ineffective and just didn’t recognise the power of social media. Not that I was alone in this. I think most web designers see social media as the purview of marketeers and social media “gurus”. They just don’t see it as their job.

However my thinking began to change and I became dissatisfied with just slapping “follow us” and “share this” buttons on my clients sites.

As I began to research into the subject I discovered that there was a lot more I could do for my clients. I began to understand that a website should be the hub for social media activity and I brought this thinking together in a post called “It’s time for your website to play nicely with social media“.

This quickly became one of my more popular posts and obviously resonated with others that shared my frustration. I was even approached by the guys at Carsonified who asked me to speak on the subject at their conference in Las Vegas. This caused me to become more serious about my research on the subject.

As I delved deeper I discovered that in many ways we all approach social media in the wrong way. I began to understand that social media is an integral part of the user experience and not just an extra channel that sits alongside the website. I realised that as website owners and web designers we need to realign our thinking so that social media is more closely integrated with the website and vice versa.

This eventually led to the presentation that I gave at Future Insights Live entitled “social media is a user experience issue“. This presentation laid out a user experience that moves seamlessly between the website, social networks and even offline interactions.

It is this thinking that I have developed still further in my latest post for Smashing Magazine. For me the main lesson I have learnt is summed up in the last paragraph of the post:

Your website should be the hub of social interaction, not sitting on the sidelines. It has the potential to draw together conversation across multiple networks and allow users to interact with friends, whether buying a camera or sharing an inspirational quote.

If you are like me and find yourself dissatisfied with the way websites work with social media channels then I recommend checking out this post. I hope it will help.