Thursday, April 17, 2008

Keep It Simple Sally - Part 1 of Web 2.0 Idea Implementation

Usually known as KISS (I don't think anyone is stupid) this little acronym is little thought of by many people. Not to offend anyone I'll just call this point "KIS".

So got a new web 2.0 idea? It'll cure cancer? It will help thousands? It will make millions? It cooks your breakfast? Well then how are you going to do it?

This is about the point where many people stop in their tracks. They've thought of a great new web 2.0 idea and just don't know how to implement it. Some of these people don't even know any programming languages or much about the internet. Fret not. There are thousands of people that have been in the same predicament. What you need to do is just KIS - Keep It Simple. We'll talk about the coding part in a later blog post.

Now that you've got your idea what exactly is it? Sit down and unleash your idea on paper. Try to keep it tidy but if inspiration hits and you go Picasso on it thats ok too. Now look at your idea and really try to simplify it. Often times you may just have a mishmash of ideas that has a central theme. Take that theme and make it your main idea. Now that you have a main idea see if your other ideas can work with it. Think of your idea in this way.

Disclaimer: There are many ways to think about your web 2.0 idea. I'm not saying mine is the best, This is just the way I think of it. Definitely do some research and see what works for you.

Your idea should be like a well oiled machine. A simplified machine works well and faces little complications. Now I know that all the cogs I put in the picture are of different sizes but here is the thing. You can look at this diagram in many different ways. The features could be driving both the main idea and addons or the main idea is driving the features and then add-ons. At any rate the point is that by organizing your web idea into a machine you can really look at how it will come together. Simplifying it visually like this is just a tool.

As an example I will use the very popular Digg. Now Kevin Rose, the founder of Digg, had one main idea. Kevin looked at Slashdot and thought to himself that it was unfair that people who submitted stories to Slashdot were often denied publication on the site by its moderators. He thought to himself "I can do this better". He wanted to create a news aggregator that was not only user submitted but, also user moderated. Unlike Slashdot he thought that the front page should be decided by the users that "dugg" the submissions. See here the feature of the site drove the main idea of user submitted news and moderation. Later on social networking become an addon to the moderation of the front page. Now users of similar interests can digg stories they liked as a group to the front page of digg. Now here is a simplified break down of Digg.com

Main Idea: User Submitted News Site
Feature: Moderation of the Front Page by Users
Add-ons: Social Networking Between People of Similar Interests


Now I know this look at Digg is really oversimplified but the point is this. When your idea is simple there will be less issues to face in the future. When your idea is too big and ambitious you'll end up working too hard to satisfy all aspects of it. In the end your web app or service will end up so bloated that its usability and function is poor. When you focus on one main idea and a small amount of features, your app or service will have greater usability which will drive users to it. Nobody likes stumbling onto a new web app or service and then realizing it sucks. So keep it simple and surely you'll succeed.

As always you can e-mail me and I will definitely try to answer all my e-mails. Nothing is more important then helping people or hearing what people think of my blog. Thank you very much for reading and I'll try to post a new topic everyday

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