How To Design For One Billion Users

November 20, 2010

5:32 pm

Clearspring, a mature startup based just outside of D.C., has been on a roll with both their audience platform and with AddThis. AddThis offers a number of sharing options and collects a ton of data about sharing on the Web. In doing so they have touched the lives of a billion users. This past week, Director of User Experience at Clearspring and AddThis, Jim Lane shared some interesting insights about how to design with one billion people in mind.

Jim discussed how a small team grew AddThis into one of the largest sharing platforms in the world, reaching over one billion people. Starting with a modest interface, the team focused on reaching the widest possible audience by keeping design and branding simple, and putting users first. Thanks to the platform’s large scale, the team was been able to iteratively measure and test in order to direct design and development. In addition, the team tackled some interesting challenges in scaling the product and architecture to a multi-national audience, while maintaining an effective user-experience and keeping their monetization goals in mind.

The key points that Jim makes when designing for a billion users are as follows:

  • Design for growth
  • Be dangerously open
  • Be data-informed
  • Build to scale
  • Embrace customers

Check out Jim’s recent presentation from his appearance at RefreshDC on November 16th.

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Frank Gruber is the cofounder, CEO and Executive Editor of Tech.Co (formerly Tech Cocktail). He is the author of the book, Startup Mixology, Tech Cocktail’s Guide to Building, Growing, and Celebrating Startup Success. He is also a startup advisor and investor to startups. Find Frank Gruber online and follow him on Twitter at @FrankGruber.

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