Community-Centered Design: It's Not About the User

A session at SXSW Interactive 2012

Tuesday 13th March, 2012

12:30pm to 1:30pm (CST)

It seems like everyone is trying to build an online community these days. Unfortunately, designing a community space is much trickier to nail than your typical web app. The smallest changes can have butterfly-like effects that greatly impact, sometimes irreversibly, community behavior as the community grows. Designing for a community is like running a small island nation with every design decision a matter of public policy. You’ll often find that the needs of your community are at odds with those of individual users.

In this talk, Richard White, co-founder of, and Steve Huffman, co-founder of and, will cover some of the key concepts behind community-driven design and how you can incorporate them into your design thinking. We’ll also cover some of common pitfalls that drive participants away from online communities or create insular bedroom communities. Most importantly we’ll share our experiences with building online communities and walk you through real data we have collected that illustrate how small design changes can have a big impact.

About the speakers

This person is speaking at this event.
Steve Huffman

CTO, Hipmunk

Steve Huffman co-founded the social news site in 2005 with his college roommate. has since grown into one of the largest communities on the Internet. In 2010, he co-founded Hipmunk, a travel company taking the agony out of searching for plane and hotel tickets. Hipmunk won the Accelerator competition at SXSW in the Web Technologies division in 2011. Steve studied Computer Science at the University of Virginia.

This person is speaking at this event.
Richard White

CEO, UserVoice

Richard White is a Co-founder and the CEO of UserVoice, where he focuses on making sexy products for un-sexy markets like customer service. Prior to UserVoice, Richard was the lead designer on, a Y-Combinator-funded Calendaring product that drew praise for its clean design, which was sold on eBay for $258K. After Kiko, Richard founded SlimTimer, simple time tracking for freelancers, where he experimented with name-your-own-price Freemium models. The common thread throughout all these ventures is Richard’s passion for building wonderfully simple productivity tools with delightful user experiences. He’s proud to say that his works give people more time to waste rather than waste more of their time. Richard’s expertise lies in UI design & UX but in a past life he graduated with BS in Computer Science from North Carolina State University.

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3:30pm SXSW Stories Open Mic by Thom Singer


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34 attendees

  • Francesco D'Orazio
  • Andrew Lohman
  • Marina Aubert
  • Scott Nixon
  • Clemens Brandt
  • Rob Woodall
  • Daniel Lauding
  • David Kjelkerud
  • Ed Lea
  • Emily Sandison
  • Michael Paull
  • Dave Christensen
  • Gui Ambros
  • Kesah
  • Charles Klein
  • mike kuzin
  • Michael Dain
  • Mike Amburn
  • Jon Lawrence
  • Mike Metzler
  • Pablo Tirado
  • Patricia Marinho
  • Markus Wegscheider
  • Richard White
  • Sandy Chang
  • Sarita Bhatt
  • Mike Nutt
  • Tasneem Raja
  • Todd Nolley
  • Tom Kiss
  • Mike Dunn
  • Mary Beth Faccioli
  • Steve Huffman
  • Bora Celik

15 trackers

  • Ben Firshman
  • Gerren Lamson
  • Grant K Norwood
  • Hillary Hartley
  • James Madson
  • Joel Parr
  • Matthew Levine
  • Paul McAleer
  • Rosemary O'Neill
  • Rick Farrell
  • Ross Gebhart
  • Sandra Marshall
  • Steven Gianakouros
  • Larisa Chavarria
  • Todd Budnikas

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Time 12:30pm1:30pm CST

Date Tue 13th March 2012


Room 5ABC, Austin Convention Center

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