UX Power Up: Social Interfaces

Social interfaces augment existing social behavior. They aid how we leverage the power of the group in a design. Sometimes they are subtle, and sometimes the whole experience is defined by social behavior.

In this week’s UX Power Up, Frank discusses social interfaces and the new wave of social user experience coming to an interface near you… We’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments below! 

Transcript of video above…

Social Interfaces

Frank Spillers, founder of Experience Dynamics and it’s time for this weeks UX Power Up.

So today I’d like to talk about the topic of Social Interfaces.  Social interfaces are ubiquitous – they are everywhere – they are in mobile devices, they are on desktop, they are even in intranets. That’s because we are in this era of the social web, where sharing is the defining quality and where relevancy of being able to see other people’s content, or what they are doing becomes an important way to experience a website or a web application or design.  

So, social interfaces have 3 characteristics.  The first one is activity streams or being able to see what other people are doing.  It might just be like – these are popular links, or it might be the literal stream of information, such as on a facebook wall or in a literal stream of documents that are maybe shared, or something like that.  

The second way is popularity.  So what’s popular, what items are the ones that are trending that are the highest rated ones.  Think of a newspaper site that says “This is a really popular article”, or “Most viewed” or “Most seen” and so that type of information, based on real user activity can help someone go through a design and understand what may be something that they should look at.  

The third way is similarity.  By similarity I mean that as a user you could find out what other users who are like you are doing, and also content.  So you could discover content that’s of interest to you, based on what your interests are.  

There are 2 mobile apps that kind of really characterize the social interface for me.  One is called Ways.  Ways is an app that lets you navigate, so it’s a mapping application based on the input from the community.  So, if there is a roadblock or a traffic jam – whatever it is – the community will give a real-time picture of what the road situation looks like.  So it’s kind of social mapping.  

The other one, since we’re on the road, is GasBuddy.  GasBuddy is a popular app that gives you information about gas prices based on the actual real-time reporting in, or checking-in from other users.  Couple of examples there in the mobile space.  

I think social interfaces are one of those things that, I am certainly looking at incorporating aspects of social user experience in things like serious financial services web applications, or in healthcare applications that I am working on just now.  The reason is, because the social interfaces give that rich access to information that might be hidden and also increase the relevancy, which ultimately increases the desirability of the user experience. So, social user interfaces are definitely on the roadmap for the next decade at least, I think we’re at the beginning of our exploration of the social interfaces and it’s only going to get more interesting.  

Thanks a lot and we’ll talk to you next time.

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