Online Communities: Designing Usability and Supporting Sociability / Edition 1

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The purpose of the book is to set up a framework for discussions on social and technical issues of online communities. Designing usability and supporting sociability lays a solid foundation on which online communities can grow and thrive. Intended for both students and computer professionals, the book addresses the development of new online communities as well as the improvement of existing ones. It is divided into two parts - Getting Acquainted with Online Communities and Developing Online Communities - along with a preface and a concluding chapter which explores the future of online communities. For sample chapters and other resources, please check out the web site for the book at

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
"provides a good balance between theory and practise"  (Software Focus, December 2001)

"I like the slightly zany drawings"  "People will say Iwish I'd had this book before now"."   (Computer &Education, No. 36, 2001)

"…an excellent book…my best recommendations…"(Jnl of Computing and Information Technology, March 2003)

This resource for online community developers, students, and researchers describes issues related to the development and maintenance of online communities both large and small, from local parent-teacher associations to environmental action groups and large commercial communities. It categorizes different types of online communities; discusses basics of sociability, usability, and research in the field; gives suggestions for choosing software; and tells how to select and use methods for evaluating online communities. Of interest to students learning about online communities and cyberspace human-computer interaction, online community developers, and moderators. The author teaches at the University of Maryland. Annotation c. Book News, Inc., Portland, OR (
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780471805991
  • Publisher: Wiley
  • Publication date: 10/11/2000
  • Edition description: New Edition
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 468
  • Product dimensions: 10.00 (w) x 7.00 (h) x 0.94 (d)

Meet the Author

Jenny Preece is Professor and Chair of Information Systems at the University of Maryland Baltimore County, where she teaches online communities and human-computer interaction. Prior to coming to the USA she chaired the first distance education course at the Open University in the UK. She has authored a leading text on Human-Computer Interaction and numerous other publications.

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Table of Contents





Community Tours.

Sociability: Purpose, People, and Policies.

Usability: Tasks, Users, and Software.

Research Speaks to Practice: Interpersonal Communication.

Research Speaks to Practice: Groups.


Community-Centered Development.

Selecting Software.

Guidelines: Sociability and Usability.

Assessing Needs and Evaluating Communities.

Development Case Studies.

Looking to the Future.



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From the Foreword by Doug Schuler, Seattle Community Network

Who should read this book? Clearly, developers of next-generation virtual community tools, services and applications should adopt this as their bible. The struggle for the soul of cyberspace has begun, and Preece goes a long way toward opening up this process.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted September 2, 2000

    Research and Methodology Combine to Provide A Complete Guide to Developing Virtual Communities

    It is a most comprehensive look at the 'state of the art' concerning online communities. With good case studies and many examples, Preece provides a rational analysis of what we know and don't know about what makes online discussion forums of all types work or not work. Preece is an advocate of community centric development, an outgrowth of rapid application development modified to support the special needs of virtual communities. This book details this methodology right down to the deliverables. She makes a major contribution with the concept of sociability - those policies and management practices, the language and informatics that define an online community's culture. She provides extensive guidelines on all aspects of sociability. This book is a must read for anyone involved in interactive websites, moderating or building online communities, or teaching the subject. It is not overally academic and very readable.

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