Monday, March 13, 2006

Too much choice!! What's a nonprofit to do?

From Ross Mayfield's blog. Providing a summary of a interview with Barry Schwartz at PC Forum.

People are so overwhelmed with choice that:

  1. Instead of liberating people, it paralyzes them.
  2. With all this choice, people may do better objectively than when there was less choice, but they will feel worse.
With CiviCRM, we intentionally built an open source project that had the potential to overwhelm the end user with choices. Want a donor management system, configure it that way, what a client tracking and outcomes system, configure it another way. But our target audience was NOT end users. It was an ecosystem of people, firms, nonprofits, intermediaries and others that would serve end users.

I think this is one of the issues we have right now in a Web 2.0 world of web services, mashups and all the rest... a lot of this technology is really usefull to people who build applications for end users. For the end users themselves, it is too feature rich and offers too much choice to be truely enhance productivity and make people feel good and satisfied with their enhancement of productivity.

One of the lessons I take away from the discussion is that we need to make some very simple, user-focused features in CiviCRM to model for the ecosystem that we still have work to do to make this stuff truely end-user friendly. I think we've done a great job with CiviContriibute. Once you get CiviCRM installed, (1) go to paypal, get an API key; (2) enter it into an admin screen; (3) use the wizard to create an online donation page; (4) start accepting online donations. Hopefully the community will help build out more of these very simple end-user focused tasks and workflows.

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1 comment:

Greg Beuthin said...

This puts my confusion into perspective when I'm trying to grok what NetSquared (and WineCamp) is aiming to do. Or rather, to whom are they aiming? It's the end user I end up working with often, and where I still see a disconnect.

I think there's a layer between developers and end-users - that layer of folks who adapt and play high on the tech scale. These folks are the tinkerers, the nptech-tagging folks, who know how to configure their WordPress sites and use Flock.

IMHO they should not be considered the end-user audience when talking about how to present Web2.0 "solutions." A such, this discussion stills needs to come down a level, to have a wider understanding and adoption. And I think that's a challenge we (the general end-user serving, npo-friendly tech "we") need to respond to.