How sharing with a community is really an invitation to collaborate

We’re big fans of Eric Ries’ Lean Startup here and so whilst the Sabisu platform feels seamless and integrated it could be regarded as an aggregation of hypotheses, some of which find support and are used widely (the Hub) and some which don’t and aren’t (Facebook integration).

A key hypothesis behind the system – a ‘parent’ if you like of lots of other hypotheses – is that users want to share data and content easily & seamlessly, i.e., without needing to jump off to other platforms. Hence each of the pages and widgets on the workplace has always had ‘Share’ as an option. To date it’s worked the same for all pages and widgets; it shares a copy of the object with the target user providing a signpost back to the data.

However, where the data has been curated for a community (i.e., it’s a ‘community page’) it doesn’t make sense to share a copy with a user. It makes much more sense to make that user a part of the community.

So sharing community data with someone should really be…an invite to that community.

In fact, as a user might want to share data, invite a user to a community, or do both, there are actually three use-cases required:

(i) Share a page

(ii) Invite a new user to a community

(iii) Share community data with a new user

It’s possible to share data securely with a single operation: (ii). What our metrics told us was that users don’t do this. For example, Molly wants to share a community page with Connie. A typical process followed by users might be:

(a) Molly wants Connie to see some data. Molly shares the page.

(b) Connie gets a copy but can’t see all the data as some is community users only. Or Connie wants to chat with Molly, or contribute to a forum – but can’t because they’re not in the same community.

(c) Connie asks for an invite into the community, which Molly approves.

(d) Connie gets the community pages and they can work together.

What this shows is that when the ‘share’ use-case (use-case (ii) above) is successful, users then want to collaborate but can’t. We have allowed data to be shared but not collaborated on – which isn’t what we want at all. It’s counter-intuitive; the users expect the act of sharing to be an act of inclusion.

So the ‘sharing’ of a community page with no strings attached is a failure. By trying to remain flexible we had made the system harder to use.

Therefore we now limit the options available to make the experience better; the ‘Share’ option on the community page menu actually kicks off the ‘invite’ process, or use-case (ii), like so:

1. User selects ‘Share’ on page menu

2. “This is a community page so you’ll need to invite people to the Automation community.” (Then the usual invite spiel.)

3. Target users join community, getting community page and therefore data required.

Here’s how it looks:

Community invite to share a page

This process feels much better – it’s a ‘one step’ process for both inviters and invitees.

Of course, it doesn’t preclude the sharing of individual widgets or construction of new communities for other requirements, but it does make the act of sharing one of inclusion.

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