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Design to Thrive: Creating Social Networks and Online Communities that Last 1st Edition
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"This book provides the necessary antidote to the thoughtless, random and in too many cases desperate nature of many of today’s attempts to build online communities." – Carl Zetie, Strategist, IBM
"Howard's theoretical stance is firmly grounded in a lifetime of practical experience which makes fascinating and sometimes very amusing reading. Have you ever wondered why some networks and communities thrive and others fail? Read this book and find out." –Dr. Jurek Kirakowski, Senior Lecturer, Human Factors Research Group, Cork, Ireland
"Professionals in technical communication will find this book packed with relevant information, especially given the evolving role of communicators in new media. Writers and editors can put best practices to use in working with their employers, with clients, or within their own professional lives."--Angel Belford, Technical Communication, Volume 58, Number 1, February 2011
"This important work fills a gap in the literature in its proposal of methods to fuse technology with practical community growth and sustainability… [Howard] more than knows the subject, considering the very prominent place he holds in the human computer interaction and usability communities… [Howard] very smoothly conveys his thoughts in an eloquent, easily accessible manner that any level of reader would be able to penetrate…. This surprisingly deep yet easily readable book seamlessly incorporates the research of people such as Bruce Tuckman, Leon Festinger, and Charlene Li and Josh Bernoff, among others… Highly recommended. All levels of academic and professional readers, especially those who create and maintain online communities."--CHOICE
From the Back Cover
Social networks and online communities are reshaping the way people communicate, both in their personal and professional lives. What makes some succeed and others fail? What draws a user in? What makes them join? What keeps them coming back? Entrepreneurs and businesses are turning to user experience practitioners to figure this out. Though they are well-equipped to evaluate and create a variety of interfaces, social networks require a different set of design principles and ways of thinking about the user in order to be successful. Design to Thrive presents tried and tested design methodologies, based on the author’s decades of research, to ensure successful and sustainable online communities -- whether a wiki for employees to share procedures and best practices or for the next Facebook. The book describes four criteria, called "RIBS," which are necessary to the design of a successful and sustainable online community. These concepts provide designers with the tools they need to generate informed creative and productive design ideas, to think proactively about the communities they are building or maintaining, and to design communities that encourage users to actively contribute.
Top Customer Reviews
The heart of the book is the RIBS framework, a discussion of the four key elements necessary for the success of online communities: remuneration, influence, belonging, and significance. Each of these concepts is developed in a separate chapter, and the result is a solid framework that can be used to design, build, and test online communities of many different flavors.
I work in publishing, and have already been cribbing ideas from Design to Thrive to use in conversations with our new media and marketing teams. I find myself frequently citing Howard's vital distinction between social networks and online communities, two very different things that most folks I know tend to confuse. Whatever your role, if you work in media, publishing, or web development, you will find useful strategies and ideas in this book. If you're serious about doing social media right, this book can provide you with a framework, practical strategies, and a language for talking with your peers.
Below is my review written in 10/2010
An analogy can be made of this book as to having to read a dry, boring book in a required college course, but later realizing that the book's teachings really were useful.
This potentially powerful book is written by a tenured professor, and is halfway between a textbook for a required class and a popular marketing book, not being particularly readable in either case, but providing valuable methodology. Like many professors, the author states he doesn't care whether the book becomes popularly read, as he wrote this strictly for community designers. If you're NOT a community designer, I recommend reading the last two chapters first, as later explained.
The topic is how to attract and retain users to build web communities, using users' benefits of Remuneration, Influence, Belonging, and Significance to evaluate the community's potential for success. The synopsis of the book in Amazon's book description and other reviews here will give you a feel for this RIBS model.
Web community building is, in its essence, an understanding of the sociology of the web and how to harvest its groups. This understanding requires volumes of books, and this small book and RIBS can acts as partial guideline for web community guideline.
Is reading this partial and dry guideline on web community building worthwhile? The answer is definitely yes, and this is actually best explained in the final chapter, where the author describes the political power, marketing influence, social behavior influence of potential web communities.Read more ›
Mr. Howard discusses four design tenets for delivering user experiences that will draw new members in and keep existing ones committed to an online community. Together these tenets form Mr. Howard's R.I.B.S. theory of successful online community building, with R.I.B.S. standing for: Renumeration, Influence, Belonging, and Significance.
Discussing these tenets individually in separate chapters, Mr. Howard begins by defining the goals for each tenet, then provides examples of things that can be done to help achieve those goals.
Renumeration: the goals would be to meet the stated purpose of an online community and make members feel they're getting what they signed up for (e.g., knowledge sharing, information exchange, collaboration, etc). Creating a safe and welcoming environment for novices and veterans alike to continually mingle, interact, and make contributions is a necessary step towards achieving these goals.
Influence: the goals would be to make members feel they have a voice in the community, and their efforts to make contributions and help out are appreciated. Providing mechanisms for community members to "tip their hats" to (e.g., positively rate or comment on) quality contributions and rewarding "points" for active participation are some ways to achieve these goals.
Belonging: the goals would be to make members feel "they've arrived" and the relationships they've formed with community members are "special".Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
A must read for anyone developing an online social network or community. Dr. Howard's RIBS framework is spot on.Published 13 months ago by Mama Marie
Facebook, Twitter, Web 2.0, etc. are merely platforms to create a sense of belonging and community; Design to Thrive attempts, successfully, to explain the theory and practice... Read morePublished on August 21, 2012 by A Customer
As a forum and social media manager for several online communities, I really enjoyed this book. There are many easy to implement ideas one can pick up just from a simple scan... Read morePublished on July 24, 2012 by Jill Florio
A reader interested in designing social networks is likely to significantly benefit from the framework presented by Howard. Read morePublished on July 8, 2012 by Jijnasu Forever
Tharon W. Howard's book provides a heuristic titled RIBS that is meant to inform designers on how to create sustainable online communities. Read morePublished on May 18, 2012 by Jacob C Farny
I have long wanted to create communities around my sites, but always struggled with spam and splog issues. So I was excited to read this book. Read morePublished on October 20, 2011 by Leslie Truex
There are some great reviews already listed here so I won't be too repetitive except to share some of my favorite features/highlights:
1. Read more
Design to Thrive: Creating Social Networks and Online Communities that Last is a complete guide to create a growing and lasting social networks and online communities. Read morePublished on August 26, 2011 by Sidarta Tanu
Design to Thrive is an analytical approach to what it truly takes to create social networks and online communities that thrive and stand the test of time. Read morePublished on June 10, 2011 by J Hart