But how exactly will this revolutionized delivery of content be presented to us?. I’m not talking about on which device or medium, I’m talking about how it will be displayed on our our devices in order to create an optimal consumption experience. Traditionally, information is delivered either via a news site, a blog, or a feed. When it comes to news sites and blogs, we still have to access individual sites to view articles and posts. In terms of feeds, we access one site, and all of the relevant information is funneled in. I use the term “relevant” loosely here, because unless you are sitting in front of your screen watching the information come in, it is pushed out of your feed and irrelevant within 10 mins. The old linear timelines and feeds that leverage a vertical endless scroll need an upgrade. These design patterns have worked great, but our information consumption habits are evolving, new technology is enabling more intelligent information delivery, and this information needs to be delivered more efficiently and effectively.
Cards are the perfect way to deliver content that is broken down into individual information components. The granularity of the information can vary, but ultimately it’s exactly what the end user wants. Different content can be presented easily in a series of cards, creating one seamless data consumption experience. Information is aggregated based on user customization and preferences; location and context; other end users with similar interests; or hyper-targeted advertising.
Cards are great for giving us short bursts of the information we need, but they also offer endless manipulation possibilities. They can be flipped over, expanded, re-ordered, and used as windows into valuable real-time information. More and more platforms are starting to implement aspects of the cards design pattern. For instance, Twitter recently introduced cards as a means to embed images, video, and other media into users timelines. Facebook has also begun using a card-like layout within their mobile feed, allowing users to side scroll through photos and other information. Google Now is a strictly card based information delivery platform. The service gets to know you and delivers only relevant information in the form of cards.
These are just incremental implementations of cards. Imagine a different Twitter feed, one where each tweet is a live window into that persons twitter data, enabling you to not only side-scroll through their tweets without having to leave your feed but also to reorder your feed in terms of who is relevant to you now and fully customize how you consume the tweets you care about most.
At Dashbook, we’ve implemented cards in an extremely versatile way, allowing end users to display any piece of connected data, relevant to them, on any screen. We leverage end user customization to provide better personalization and a seamless information consumption experience.
The possibilities for the use of cards are endless. They will be the new creative canvas, especially on mobile as they grant end users full control over what information is delivered to them. Delivering information in the form of multi dimensional cards is the future. It will revolutionize the idea of what a feed really is by giving end users more control and providing higher quality insights in a way that makes it effortless to consume what is relevant.
I recently read a great article on how the brands of the future will help us consume less. The article’s focus was on how the best brands will not grow by pushing more and more useless crap on us. Rather, they will get to know us through data and personalization, earning our loyalty by giving us exactly what we want. While the article mainly referenced the retail industry, it can be directly applied to the companies that supply us with all of the information we consume daily.
As it stands, most of the companies that supply us with the information we care about are operating by pushing more and more irrelevant information to us, without any idea as to what we actually need. This information comes in the form of disorganized websites, layers upon layers of mobile apps, crowded social feeds, and generic notifications and insights. As consumers, we can’t get enough, and so we find ourselves reading irrelevant information, receiving misinformed notifications, or trying to manage cluttered feeds.
The internet has commoditized content. We now have unlimited and unbounded access to any piece of connected data.The caveat? We’re required to dig through the web, our mobile apps, and crowded social feeds in order to access any of it. However, the tide is turning. We are in the early stages of a re-architecture of the web. One that focuses less on destinations and pages, and more on a fully personalized experience where content is no longer accessed, but delivered in the form of aggregated individual information components that are tailored to us.
Innovative information providers are driving the web away from pages of linked content, layered mobile apps, and generic insights, towards individual pieces of personalized content consolidated into one experience that was specifically created for an individual consumer. Services like Google Now, Flipboard, Feedly, and various create-your-own dashboard products provide varying levels of customization and personalization to deliver only the information their users want. In essence, helping us to consume less information, but more of what is relevant to us. The implementation of detailed customization and intelligent personalization engines are powering this re-architecture. We are being given more choice around what we want to consume, and at the same time, these products are learning more about what we want, there by increasing the relevance of what we are consuming...information in its purest form.
The information we consume on a daily basis can be safely grouped into two categories: expected information, and unexpected information.
Expected information comes from sources we regularly access for new content: stock charts, RSS feeds, blogs, etc. Unexpected information on the other hand, is information you don’t know you care about until it reaches you, for example: a bad accident on your route home, those new golf clubs you want finally being on sale, or even an unexpected spike in website traffic.
For expected information, technologies like Flipboard, an aggregated RSS stream - are currently leading the way in bridging some of the gaps in our current information experience. By providing a single list of content merged from multiple sources into a consistent format, users are no longer required to go to each source of information to browse content. Instead a new streamlined process brings all the information to them on a single screen.
Where unexpected information is concerned, Google Now is trying to provide users with a similar streamlined process - but they take into account things like recent searches, calender events and any other relevant Google services that apply to the end user right now. Suddenly your mobile device is warning you to catch an earlier bus due to delays, or informing you of an updated flight departure time.
Although both of these services are pioneering the next generation of user information experience, they are not without flaws and limitations. Flipboard is a very static service in terms of personalization; You can customize the sources of your content, but the content is never personalized to you - that is, it doesn’t learn from the posts you’ve chosen to read and not read. Google Now on the other hand provides no customization, but has scarily intuitive personalization that only improves over time - under the caveat that the information you care about exists within the confines of a Google service.
When we started designing Dashbook, we knew that people wanted unbounded and effortless access to all their information, and we knew they wanted it in an adaptive, and auto-personalizing way like Google Now - but we could also see the near endless obstacles of combining these two ideas into a cohesive platform. Considering that platforms are merely a reflection of the data they provide; This effectively makes Instagram a collection of photos, Twitter a collection of text snippets - and would make Dashbook a collection of the entire Internet. This raised an impossible, yet unavoidably interesting question: If you could see the entire Internet, all the time - of all that information, what would you choose to display on one screen? What would it really take to provide each and every person with their own personal view of the Internet? One that had been automatically and effortlessly curated just for them?