Zach Holman wrote a great article on his blog yesterday titled Don’t Give Your Users Shit Work:
Some people still like shit work. They can spend an hour moving Twitter accounts to special Lists, and then at the end of it look back and say “Boy, I spent an hour doing this. I really accomplished a lot today!” You didn’t. You did shit work.
I think this is one of the most important lessons for people and companies developing web services. As the article shows, Facebook is a great example of a company that handles shit work very well. While Facebook may be filled with numerous other issues, Facebook handles shit work, such as categorizing friends, better than any other social media outlet around.
Users want the highest yield from the least amount of work. Facebook continues to succeed, despite its terrible track record of privacy blunders and usability issues, because it allows users to seamlessly share status updates, links, pictures, games, and information all in one feed. While many people complained about the most recent Facebook overhaul, it was completely necessary to keep up with the sheer amount of data being entered into Facebook. Facebook is now doing even more shit work, such as figuring out who (they think) you want to read about and separating friends’ action updates from the newsfeed updates. Users may have retaliated at first, but the storm has now settled and I think people have come to understand the benefits of the new layout (or have become too lazy to fight back anymore).
In the end, it’s all about creating a useful, usable, and unintimidating stream of information with the least amount of input from the user. It’s about being intuitive as to the consumer’s needs, and providing without asking. Technology is moving so fast that users really don’t know what they want. Successful companies of the future will be the companies that tell the user what they want. Ask too many questions and you’re bound to fail.
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