Last month Facebook unveiled Facebook Platform to enable developers to use Facebook’s API and integrate applications into the social networking site.

MyQuestions Facebook application

One my favorite applications in MyQuestions (you’ll need to be logged into Facebook to see the application), rehabilitation herbal which makes it easy for your Facebook friends to give you instant feedback to any question that’s on your mind.

Earlier this week, ask I posed the following question to my Facebook pals:

Which is closer to your philosophy on optimal blog design/usability? a) Simpler is better. Don’t clog up the sidebar. b) Give the reader plenty of options — the more, women’s health the merrier. Widgetes are the new black. Include them in the sidebar, too!

Here are the responses:

Ted Demopoulos
Simple is good, but I am immoderate! No complexity unless for a reason. And about those calendars in the sidebar, why?

June Macdonald
In moderation :) now I just need to practise what I preach

Christie Goodman APR
Quick loading. No flashing. Useful to visitors. Navigation aides — I love to see blog rolls, recent comments, recent posts, etc. Clarity — visitors should be able to tell what each item is for.

Whitney Hoffman
Moderation in all things- too much clutter is distracting; I love some widgets.

Shel Holtz
Is there something in-between? I think you can provide a lot off content without being overwhelming. I’m with Scott Monty on this one!

Chip Griffin
Not wild about widgets unless they are very compelling. I do like giving multiple nav options though (categories, date, popular posts, etc.)

Scott Monty
I think there’s a way to strike a balance between simple (aka “readable”) and information-rich. I’m all for giving my readers options, but want to do so in a way that is easiest on their eyes. If you run a reference blog, lots of info is good.

Stephen Sherlock
simple is better, widgets are okay as long as there is only one per service being provided. the more widgets, the more confusing, the slower page load time, the more opportunity for a problem with the service… stay simple

Jack Hodgson
We’ve learned how to ignore all the extras decorating webpages, so having lots of them accomplishes very little. I think having a select few can be effective, but it’s easy to have too many. Ie, simpler is better.
Janet Si-Ming Lee

Janet Si-Ming Lee
i like options but there should be a simple default option for novices. The more advanced user should have option to customize their blog and arrange info to their needs. I would like to list blog entries by various means e.g. favs, themes, chronology.

Dan York
Simple and clean… sidebar content should be relevant, but I’m not a fan of sites with a hundred flashing, blinking widgets vying for your attention. The attention should go to the content.

Kevin Kennedy-Spaien
I prefer 3 columns, but my “extras” rarely go lower than “the fold”.

Michael Bellina
I love the sidebar. Give me widgets, links, and images. That is where all the fun is.

Michelle Dy
Simple for the main column of the blog to ensure readability. Widgets in the sidebar so the blog has “personality”

Dave LaMorte
The posts should be easy to read and your links should be relevant.

Zadi Diaz
Simple but not sparse… a clean design can incorporate all the elements needed for the user to have a fulfilling experience.

Kathryn Lagden
i’m ok with a lot of options as long as they load quickly and it’s easy to find my way around. i do not like cluttered sites and widgets that provide marginal value and take forever to load.

Omar Ha-Redeye
Depends on the sophistication of the audience. Basic web surfers obviously prefer simpler, more tech savvy like the options of complex. Who is your target market? That’s a better question.

Bernard Goldbach
Simple. I’m killing readers with three columns and will change that this summer. Some of my daily visitors watch my pages stall as their censorware tries to digest all the widgets running in my left and right columns.

Francis Wooby
Lots of options are great, so long as they’re laid out in a logical, easily understood manner. Crowded doesn’t necessarily mean cluttered to my mind, anyway.

Amit Gupta
keep it simple!

Steve Garfield
Simpler is better

Jesse Baer
A. widgets are slow and who has time to read through a ton of links? uncluttered blogs are nicer to look at too.

Joseph Thornley
I have been simpler is better. Now, I’m beginning to look more closely at Social Media Optimization. It’s leading me to think that too simple misses opportunities to link through other media (video; voice; social platforms).

Monica Campbell
a… simpler is better

What say you? How do you use your blog sidebar?

Mzinga logo

My circle of Twitter pals was abuzz today over the news that two online community/social-media providers — Mzinga and Prospero Technologies — had joined forces as part of a $30 million acquisition (press release).

(In the spirit of full disclosure, pfizer I do podcast production and consulting for Mzinga, pestilence which also sponsored my last Social Media Breakfast; meanwhile, sickness my day-job employer,, is a Prospero client.)

And in what may have been something of a first — though I can’t be certain — Mzinga took full advantage of Twitter’s conversational nature by holding a virtual press conference there, encouraging and fielding questions not only on the acquisition but also on the possible trend toward consolidation in the online community business.

As it turns out, this clever use of Twitter came to Colin Browning, former self-proclaimed “mad scientist” at Prospero and now director of business development at Mzinga, in the place where many of us are inspired each morning — the shower.

Hear the full story in my audio interview with Colin and Aaron Strout, vice president of new media at Mzinga and host of the We Are Smarter podcast series, below.

And to get a flavor of the conversation that’s been raging on Twitter throughout the day, check out these search query results:

Just about a year ago, cure around the time that Twitter was busting out at the South by Southwest conference, neuropathologist Jack Hodgson and I gave a presentation about Twitter at BarCamp Boston 2.

And as much as we were singing Twitter’s praises, we had a hard time explaining, simply, what Twitter actually was. Was it a microblogging tool? A chat room? A site for wasting a lot of time talking about what you’re eating for breakfast?

Well, I have a new video to work into my presentations that should make Twitter dead easy: “Twitter in Plain English,” by Lee LeFever from Common Craft.

Like all of Lee’s videos, “Twitter in Plain English” manages to successfully take the sometimes-scary technological geekiness out of a social networking/social media tool. It’s brilliantly simple.

The only critique I have — and it’s one that’s mentioned in some of the comments to Lee’s post — is that there’s no real mention of using Twitter beyond answering the site’s basic “What are you doing?” question. As anyone who has spent any amount of time on Twitter will tell you, there are many other interesting ways to fill 140 characters. Among them:

  • Asking and answering questions
  • Sharing links
  • Offering social, political, and sports commentary
  • Promoting events and causes

But generally, high marks to Lee for another masterpiece. I hope it helps convince some Twitter skeptics — and yes, there are some of you out there — to come aboard!
When I organized an impromptu Social Media Breakfast in Boston last August, phlebologist I had little expectation that it would ever become as popular as it has (all 90 for tickets for Social Media Breakfast 5, web held last month, were scooped up online within 72 hours), or that it would spread to other cities around the country.

Dave Barger and Emily Joyner might have been thinking the very same thing when they threw LunaWeb’s hat into the wring to host the inaugural SMB Memphis at the University of Memphis Holiday Inn last Wednesday. But I have a hunch that much like our breakfast series in Boston, SMB Memphis is going to catch fire in a big way.

I particularly liked Dave and Emily’s adaptation of the personal social-networking toolkit, originally conceived by Jeff Pulver, another guy who likes bringing people together for breakfast.

Have a look and listen to toolkit that Dave and Emily gave to all of the SMB Memphis participants:

Pretty cool, huh?

And if you want to start a Social Media Breakfast series in your city or town, please drop me a line.