September 11, 2003
Another Thought on Means For Dreams

Here’s another idea that occurred to me after I wrote my original piece on Means for Dreams. I showed the Means for Dreams site to a friend last night, and she said she liked it, but thought it was for rich people, not for her — the idea of the site aggregating microcontributions never occurred to her, even after browsing the site. At first this surprised me, but then I went back and had another look and realized why she was confused — each project has a button that reads, in large type, “FUND THIS PROPOSAL”, and then beneath that another button with “Partially Fund This Proposal” in smaller type. In other words, the interface is silently saying that the primary use case is single donors funding entire proposals.

This is important, in that I simply don’t think that such a case is anywhere near as realistic as the idea of people making a smaller contribution. One of my mantras in interface design is to always optimize for the common case, so either the Means for Dreams folks don’t know that rule, or they do know that rule and simply think that deep-pockets, Daddy Warbucks individual givers are going to be the common case. I hope that’s not it, since it’s easier to fix a simple mistake in UI design than it is to fix such a fundamental misconception of who would use such a site, and what they would hope to get out of it.

Posted by Jason Lefkowitz at September 11, 2003
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Ant's Eye View is edited by Jason Lefkowitz, a consultant and Web developer in Alexandria, Virginia. Got a question, comment, or concern? Let me hear it!

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