Hypothes.is : The User Experience and implications for developers

The more I read about hypothes.is the more I realise how on to it you all are and the keener I am to help.

Given my non-technical background I wrote my initial thoughts and then G asked me to consider why people would want to use Hypothes.is.

I have drawn out some implications for those who are developing the software. You are probably on top of them already. They are summarised at the end of this paper.

User Sets

We can understand users of Hypothesis by splitting them into four nested sets.

The first set is those people who are just dipping into Hypothes.is, considering installing it or using it for the first time. I have called these Dippers.

The second set contains regular Readers who will just read annotations and seldom or never add them themselves. Judging by the situation on traditional websites and forums this will be by far the largest set.

The third set contains the Authors of annotations. They also read annotations but participate mainly to write.

The fourth set contains Readers and Authors who interact with other users by writing or responding to replies.

Outside these sets are the potential Hypothes.is users who have not yet installed Hypothes.is.

Why people will Dip into Hypothes.is

Dippers will be drawn to Hypothes.is by curiosity or mandate. It is important that on first glance they find it an interesting, helpful and engaging experience or they will drop out with a negative impression and it will be hard to win them back.

Raising the curiosity level

Curiosity is the most likely reason people will first look at Hypothes.is.

They may be curious about

Implications of raising curiosity levels

Hypothes.is needs to feed curiosity not only by promoting itself but encouraging and giving website owners, authors and groups opportunities to self-promote whilst at the same time promoting Hypothes.is.

For example :

Engaging curious Dippers

Hypothes.is needs to nurture these curious Dippers to ensure they keep coming back once the initial curiosity fades.

Implications of engaging curious Dippers.

Hypothes.is needs to give curious Dippers an easy and engaging experience. This could be helped by:

Mandated use

People might read Hypothes.is annotations because it has been mandated by someone in authority, for example for:

Implications of helping mandated Dippers.

Mandated Dippers have to take their first dips into Hypothes.is but it is important to try to convert them into regular users. They will often but not always use private groups in terms of reading and authorship. They will require security of their information both in terms of privacy, permanence, exportability and control .

Why Readers will want to keep using Hypothes.is.

The following comments apply to people who have dipped into Hypothes.is out of curiosity or mandate. We need to encourage new users to make Hypothes.is a regular part of their lives Reading is the likely entry to regular Hypothes.is use. So why will people become regular hypothes.is Readers?

Reasons might include:

  1. To seek additional information about the content of a web page.

  2. To read opinions about a web page.

  3. To share with others an annotation that someone else has written.

  4. To be entertained.

  5. To tread the water before writing their own annotations.

  1. To seek additional information about the content of the web page

People might use Hypothes.is to seek additional information about a web page for a range of reasons including:

Implications of helping readers who want additional information about the content of web pages.

People who are reading annotations to gather information will want to know that their collection of information is private, permanent and able to be organised.

  1. To read opinions about webpages

People like to read the opinions of others. It seems that most people like to read the opinions that agree with their own but some will still be in the process of forming opinions, are willing to have their opinions changed or are willing to follow the ideas of opinion leaders. Readers may want to see opinions from:

Implications of helping Readers who are seeking opinions

People who are interested in reading annotations to get to know what opinions are out there may want to selectively follow particular authors or groups.

  1. To share what other people have put in an annotation said on the webpage

People like to share what they have seen on the internet and this will extend to annotations. Readers will want to share annotations they have read with friends, colleagues, etc.

Implications of helping reader who want to share annotations they have read.

It is important that these readers can easily share an annotation on social media, email or storage with an added comment.

They might want to add their own comments, for example

  1. To be entertained

Whatever noble ideals Hypothes.is starts out with people will use if for entertainment. They will want to make jokes about, insult, deride and satirise webpages.

Implications for helping readers who want or don’t want to read ‘entertaining’ content.

Hypothes.is will need to accommodate these jokers but also allow more serious readers to filter them out of their sidebar list of annotations.

  1. As a stepping stone to Authorship on Hypothes.is

Hypothes.is will depend for its growth on attracting new Authors and encouraging Readers to become Authors. Consideration should always be given to how to convert readers into authors.

Readers can be encouraged to become Authors by:

Implications for encouraging readers to become authors

Readers need to be able to see and contribute to the methods that Hypothes.is uses to encourages Authors to author as discussed below.

Encouraging Authors

These are people whose main interest in Hypothes.is is to write annotations. Although there is likely to be far fewer Authors than Readers there needs to be a high level of annotation across the web to keep Readers interested. The task of recruiting and keeping interested lots of useful Authors is crucial to the success of Hypothes.is.

Why authors will annotate on Hypothes.is.

  1. To influence

  2. To correct, support or expand factual assertions

  3. To collate information for themselves and others

  4. To create a personal brand

  5. To promote someone or something

  6. To clarify their thoughts

  7. To clear a thought or idea out of their heads

  8. Secondary feel good rewards

Implications for encouraging authors

Authors of annotations need to know they are reaching an audience, being appreciated and achieving their goals.

Encouraging and controlling Interaction on Hypothes.is

Allowing online interaction whilst controlling personal attacks, bullying and overloading annotations lists with nonsense is a difficult issue but it is no different to behaviour that is already seen on websites, in webpage comments and in forums. It will no doubt be an issue in annotations and replies to annotations.

Implications for encouraging and controlling interactions

Summary of Implications

Implications for web sidebar interface.

Author support

Group support

Reader support

Backroom Implications

Security of data

Hope some of this was useful.