Micro-Work [mahy-kroh wurk] - adj - 1. Small efforts of web users through typing, clicking, reading.
I invented this term to describe the behavior I noticed in users of the most successful sites. Look at Twitter, for instance. 140 characters of text. Easy, quick and to the point. A behavior that can be repeated endlessly. What are you doing? Want to share a link of your favorite video clip? Post a picture? All can be done in a short period of time. Less than a minute, preferably less than 30 seconds.
Users can’t get bored by these quick actions. They aren’t sitting at a computer, eyes bleeding, for hours at a time. They can do a few tweets in the AM and get instant gratification. Come noon they may even have replies that they can respond to all in 30 seconds or less. It is an easily repeatable cycle compounded by the millions of users that make up the social network of Twitter.
What other sites use micro-work? Wikipedia, Facebook, search engines. YouTube does. The most popular videos in terms of views are all a few minutes long. Easy to watch, easy to click on, easy to share. Actually, all operations on the site are quick and remove excess. Posting a video is as easy as browsing, selecting and entering a title and description. A few operations that can be done quickly.
Viewing, of course, is as simple as hitting play after your desired video is found. But then it is just as easy to click over to a related video and watch that in under 5 mins. You can quickly indicate if you liked the video through a star vote or by adding a comment.
Micro-work has come in to focus for me because of our problems with content creation on 10to1. Our first iteration of the site in Aug 2008 included a Create List Feature with 10 list item boxes. In all there were 43 separate inputs! An average list could be created in 20 mins. A good list could take up to an hour of work! You can see why many people decided against creating a list.
Our new content creation has been slimmed down with micro-work in mind. To start a list it is as simple as entering a title, description and category. Easy, quick and to the point in less than 30 seconds. From there anyone in the community can add items. Add a title (with link if you would like), description and media. 3 steps is all it takes in under 30 seconds! We made content creation far more accessible by breaking up the parts of list creation and simplifying each step.
Our next battle is with the task of going out and retrieving images and video for your list. This task eats up the most time of any action on our site. Go to Google Image Search, pick your image from the hundreds offered, right-click and copy the image URL, come back to 10to1, paste in to the “Add A Media URL”. Multiplied by 10 items and it gets laborious and really, not fun!
Over the next week we will be releasing our solution to this problem. I am stoked to see what users think of this upgrade. More details to follow!
So my advice to anyone with a web property or is thinking about starting one…keep it simple. Keep actions and tasks to only a few minutes of work with as efficient input as possible. Any actions on the site must be micro-work for your site to be successful.