good-for-something web apps

A interesting essay from Clay Sharky about situated software.
This is software that is built for a small community of users with a
central social component. It doesn’t have to be generic, scalable or
consistent but it does need to be specifically attuned to the needs and
culture of the user group.

This rings a lot of bells for me with the circus society website
that I support. The core users probably number no more than a dozen or
two. Many of them are technical but plenty are not and even the geeky
ones have a limited attention span. A while back I experimented with a
phpWebsite-based site. Whilst technically better, it required some
initial perseverence from users and was ultimately off-putting. A phpBB
suffers a similar fate: someone commented the ratio of clicks to
posting was too high.

The big success of the site has been the chatboard, reverse-engineered from tagboard.
With custom smilies and the simplest interface this is the major draw
to the site. It doesn’t require registration, support threads or
categorise. It just works really well. The challenge is to extend the
functionality of the site whilst making it even easier to
maintain.

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