A presentation given at Web Directions North, Vancouver Canada, January 31 2008.
We’ve always had metaphors to understand and design for the Web.
The original conception of the Web was as a library of documents. Our building blocks were derived from spatial ideas: “breadcrumbs,” “visits” and “homepages” were used to understand the medium.
Website-as-application was a new and novel metaphor in the late 1990s. The spatial concept of navigation was replaced by concepts derived from tools: buttons performed actions on data.
These metaphors inspire separate but complementary models of the Web. But the Web in 2008 has some entirely new qualities: more than ever it’s an ecology of separate but highly interconnected services. Its fiercely competitive, rapid development means differentiating innovations are quickly copied and spread. Attention from users is scarce. The fittest websites survive. In this world, what metaphors can be most successfully wielded?
Matt takes as a starting point interaction and product design, with ideas from cybernetics and Getting Things Done. He offers as a metaphor the concept of the Web as experience. That is, treating a website as a dynamic entity – a flowchart of motivations that both provides a continuously satisfying experience for the user… and helps the website grow.
From seeing what kind of websites this model provokes, we’ll see whether it also helps illuminate some of the Web’s coming design challenges: the blending of the Web with desktop software and physical devices; the particular concerns of small groups; and what the next movement might bring.
About Matt Webb
Matt Webb is a principal of the creative design consultancy Schulze & Webb where his work has included material prototypes for Nokia, Web strategy for the BBC, and exploration into the future uses of RFID. S&W works in near-term product R&D and, as embodied in the USB puppet Availabot, has a special focus on the social life of stuff. Matt speaks on interaction design and technology, is co-author of Mind Hacks, cognitive psychology for a general audience, and builds polite social software and Web toys. He can be found at Interconnected and in London.