One Interface to Rule them All (part 2)

In a previous post, I outlined a handful of reasons why I think it is time for a pull-it-all-together user-centered interface for web applications, and also sketched out a few key characteristics that I’ve been  envisioning.

This will be a series of posts, but my goal is much higher than just dumping my own ideas. I’d like to see us crowd-design something that an entrepreneurial company will actually create. Because right now, our web experience is too fragmented and inefficient.

From my experience, most of the daily web tasks that we perform fall under 5 main buckets. These five functions would be the heart and soul of this new interface design, which I have given the handle “MetaMee“. And let me state up front that I see the target audience for a MetaMee-like app being the middle and upper echelon users of web applications. This tool is designed for those who want an interactive, participatory web experience. Later adopters will grow into it.

So here are the main functional areas that I’d love to see wrapped up into one “master” application/interface:


Wouldn’t it be handy to have a single interface from which to accomplish all of these tasks? By the way, I have not forgotten about “Search” – I see that as a persistent sub-function that exists within/across these main functions.

Because my graphic design skills would likely get me flunked out of kindergarten, I have to visualize my concepts in Powerpoint. Ignore the clunkiness of the boxes and try to visualize a slick i/f design:

What do you think – is this on target? Are these your main web tasks, or am I missing some things?

Imagine if you could have an app that would enable you to do these things from one place, and would seamlessly “widget-talk” with the existing platforms (for instance, you could write a “tweet” and choose to send it to Twitter, Plurk, FriendFeed, and others). I’d love to to have a stored (and tiered) ID setup that would simplify sign-up, login, and e-commerce, so I could quickly plug into and out of a variety of apps and platforms (that could be the “MeeVault”).

What we’re envisioning is a personalized, functional portal (hybrid web and local) that becomes my intelligent window out to the web (we’ll discuss intelligence features later).

Add your thoughts and ideas and critiques to the Comments!

Next, I’ll post part 3 – the I-can’t-think-of-what-else-to-call-it MeeOMy bar (no, you won’t find it in a candy store!).

Links to the entire One Interface to Rule them All series:

Part 1

Part 2

Part 3

Part 4

Part 5

Part 6

plus…The Ideal Social Media Interface

Related post: Share Media vs. Tell Media

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About Steve Woodruff
Steve Woodruff is a blogger, a Connection Agent, and a consultant in the pharma/healthcare industry. He specializes in helping people and companies make mutually beneficial connections.

20 Responses to One Interface to Rule them All (part 2)

  1. Steve, what about a category for monitoring/measuring?

    I’ve played around with NetVibes and PageFlakes hoping for an app that would allow me to at least get satisfactory placeholders for all of the resources I use on a daily basis. Unfortunately, most don’t have widgets created so the end result is messy and mostly unusable.

    I WANT something, like you, that will let me collapse these sites/tools into something neater and more efficient than having 26 browser windows open.

    Love your musings and logic.


  2. Jim Kukral says:

    Well, yeah, if someone could pull this off it’d be great. Reminds me of the “interface” that all the people had on the spaceship on Wall-e. 🙂

    I was just talking about this today on the show. Would be nice to have an interface for just places like twitter,, etc… All in one place eh? Yours would take it much further. You would think people were working on this concept of a big dashboard for everything. I hope they are.

  3. I can hardly wait for “3” to come out. Just playing Devil’s Advocate for a moment, how is the above design different from a tabbed browser with a set of favorites? (assuming that we don’t discuss the other whizbang features yet)

  4. @CB – next post will touch a bit on rating/favoriting/etc.
    @Jim K – it’s hard for me to believe that someone isn’t working on it. The fact is, Google has a number of these functions scattered about (Reader, Blogger, iGoogle, Talk, Picasa, etc.) – but the problem is, they’re scattered about and not tied together into a coherent and functional dashboard.
    @Shannon – there are some similarities; for instance, MetaMee could have a tabbed interface. I think you’ll see the functional differences over the next couple of posts…

  5. Chris Wilson says:

    This may seem like a minor point, but integrating all of these applications into one interface brings with it the need for the user to have control over what applications are in view.

    There are times when I want to be connected to all channels, but there are times when I need to shut out everything except for one channel and focus in.

  6. Great. I actually worked on something like this about a year ago and the parts are somewhere around here. I was trying to integrate my Windows apps into it too and that posed a challenge.

    I think your vision is definitely something that is possible. I’m looking forward to your other ideas.

  7. Douglas Karr says:

    Uh-oh, looks like I might be the only negative one here. I don’t subscribe to the ‘all-in-one’ methodology. Chances are, if you arrange your windows on your desktop, you could match this layout. You may even be able to arrange your tabs in your browser to accomplish this.

    The advantage of discreet applications is that each company gets to concentrate on their area of expertise. As well, consumers have the choice of whether or not they wish to add it or remove it.

    That said, I do think there is room to combine some features – for instance micro-blogging and IM. I’m not sure why Yahoo! hasn’t put twitter out of business yet simply by adding a micro-blogging option to their IM client.

  8. Pingback: Let Me Decide How Your Website Looks

  9. How did you get your picture to look all fuzzy like that? It’s so cool.

  10. chrisbrogan says:

    When Twitter used to work via IM, I used to *really* want to be able to control my email from the same line. Call it the linux in me, but I lived the command line interface flavor of Twitter.

    On the OTHER side, I want visuals for my data, and I want them to be really crazy/editable. I want to be able to see things in different ways. So, I’m not sure. I’m not 100% sold on the one interface thing.

    FriendFeed is doing *some* of what you said. Would I want to hang it off that, maybe? Not sure.

    Definitely worth a conversation.

  11. Steve, Looking good. I’d like to see “share” capabilities, also
    a “create” option to create new music, graphics or to mash stuff.

    The real brilliance of your thread Steve is helping geeks and teckkies realize how important it is to collaborate with those outside of their realm. The results would be mind boggling.


    Richmond, VA

  12. This is a great idea, but the real issue here would be user experience. It’s easy to cram a lot of features together, but if they can’t be accessed and used in a streamlined fashion, then it becomes no better than having them separate in the first place.

    Looking forward to the next part!

  13. Chris Kieff says:

    I guess that I should share that I think this idea is good but the direction is missing the point. My objection is that by creating a new Application you are adding a layer to the cake- which is another place for things to go wrong. The challenge here is trying to get all of the websites to work with you, which of course they won’t do. Look at the troubles developers face with the API’s available today for an example.

    I think the right answer is to for websites to allow power users the ability to redesign the interface to their liking. Much like MyYahoo and iGoogle do today.

    This offers two primary advantages from the Marketing perspective, it still allows branding and it keeps the site owner in charge of the basic control of the user experience. Both of these elements are essential for brand differentiation, especially in CPG and commodity sales for products like books and software.


    PS: Add a subscribe to comments widget for better reader interaction.

  14. JMacofEarth says:

    Steve: You have built a good framework for interconnected communications. I really like the self-contained meta-me data that could be used to populate and coordinate our online personas and profiles.

    Here are a couple of thoughts I had while reading your post. I look forward to the next in the series.

    View: Well, that’s really the whole enchilada, so I don’t think it is a column but a header title for the whole graphic or app. It is all about viewing the data and content we want, by manipulating the controls.

    Converse – becomes Connect: here is the email, posting and commenting view.

    Publish – as posting and editing and commenting can all be included in that mode.

    Buy/Sell – Transact
    Money or barter, this is the ebay/amazon view of the web. Contains CC info, paypal authorizations, anti-phishing protection. Bidding and selling and watching lots of different types of stuff.

    Play: while you have this listed as a gaming item, play involves more than gaming, facebook is kinda play like, and Yahoo games is huge but not really “gaming.”

    Settings: another word for preferences, which would be part of your profile.

    In making me think about the UBER APP I built a little visualization in PPT as well. It can be seen or linked to from my Flickr account, here.

    Great post. I hope we can continue the conversation.

    John McElhenney 8-10-08


  15. Rob Crowther says:

    I’d be interested to know your opinion of the browser Flock. Although they’ve picked a different (smaller) set of main tasks it seems to me they’re aiming at a solution to a similar problem.

  16. JMacofEarth says:

    Steve – My tinyurl above for the One Interface visual that I did in powerpoint had an error.

    Here is a better link made with

    Looking forward to the next post.

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