Five heuristics for designing and evaluating Web-based communities

Linda M. Gallant, Gloria M. Boone, Austin Heap

Abstract


From a three-step analysis of online communities, a set of five heuristics emerged: interactive creativity; selection hierarchy; identity construction; rewards and costs; and, artistic forms. These heuristics were generated from concepts appearing in past research, and then tested by a content analysis with focus groups using the case examples of two well-developed Web-based communities, Facebook and MySpace. The users saw this type of social technology as a flexible form of their own expression to create their own identities, social relationships, and meanings. Overall, MySpace was seen as offering greater creativity and artistic form than Facebook. The users in this study used online communities for gaining social rewards; e.g., forming and maintaining friendships, with little concern for social costs such as time expended or privacy concerns. This study contributes to a set of heuristics that can be used to evaluate other Web-based online communities in social contexts such as gaming, communities of practice, and business.

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DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.5210/fm.v12i3.1626



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