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How Google’s OpenSocial Can Help Your E-commerce Site’s Design

To get the most out of what’s Newest or Next you usually need a pretty comfortable grip on the basics. Included in the documentation for Google's release of OpenSocial, you’ll find a useful Social Design Best Practices list. Well worth a read whether your next release is a nifty widget, a workmanlike Holiday Gifts page -- or just about any content with which you hope to engage your prospect.

Google succinctly expounds on each of the numbered items below, but take this quick pass at the headlines:

  1. Engage Quickly
  2. Mimic Look and Feel
  3. Enable Self Expression
  4. Make it Dynamic
  5. Expose Friend Activity
  6. Browse the Graph
  7. Drive Communication
  8. Build Communities
  9. Solve Real World Tasks

Over at Bokardo.com, Josh Porter points out that only two or three of these best practices are truly limited to the social network: most are relevant to many software applications, including basic e-commerce.

So that new page you’re about to release, if you expect people to use it, care about it and even tell their friends about it, maybe it’s an unassuming or aspiring example of social media.

Will people “get it” quickly—and care? (See #1 above). Does it solve your prospect’s problem? (#9). Is the design consistent with the rest of your site? (#2). Can your visitor comment on it, or pass it along? (#3, #7). And so on.

Social networking can bring user-centric design to the foreground: it keeps us tuned in to the notion that real people need to find value in the content we offer on our sites.

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