Galapag.us will be packed full of data, which means there will be a conflict between the people who want as little data on-screen as possible and those who want as much data on screen as possible.
The interface is crucial. Mostly one should be able to quickly visualize patterns and anomalies within his own data. And he should be encouraged to use less-known or less-utilized parts of the site. He should also get hooked, always finding something new to tweak or add. The site must be flexible. It should also feel as though there’s always lots of activity going on.
Check out iminlikewithyou.com. The frontpage is a vortex of activity: large colorful images of the multiplayer games on-site, blow-ups of individual games, easy-to-understand context menus, and on top of all that (!) there’s a ticker as well as pop-ups showing that people are logging in and playing games. The sense you immediately get is that you have to get right in on the action!! without delay. The number of “plays” for each game reinforce the feeling that you’re missing out if you’re not playing.
If you look further on the site, you can see how easy it is to get right into a game. You’ll get crushed immediately by the vicious userbase but you’ll eventually learn the games. The other aspect of the site worth mentioning is the high degree of useability. I get smiles every time I visit this site.
thesixtyone.com is a music-rating site that is not quite as flashy as the other one, but still allows for a high degree of interaction and personalization. You are encouraged through a point system to explore new music or music that isn’t listened to regularly, as you can bump songs you like and watch as they catch on with other users. You receive pop-up messages from the artist as you listen to songs, which keep playing even as you navigate the site. The site also makes use of Xbox Live-like achievements, such as listening to certain milestones of songs or bumping songs in under-listened genres. This incentivizes exploring the site more. It is unclear where the system will end up — levels do little right now except unlocking more abilities like bumping songs more times — but this site could be what people have envisioning for independent artists: a way to promote their new music in a way that ensures people will listen to their songs and gravitate towards the best ones.
So I’m hoping Galapag.us will employ lots of hooks and interaction with each user — I can just imagine a site where people spend all day adjusting and trimming their data in order to game the system and maintain their online reputations. I’m also looking at using achievements, incentives, and group structures, layered onto a text-based RPG as ways to increase stickiness and turn Galapag.us into its own functioning world.