Social Design matters to a!
of usbecause the internet is changing.It is evolving "om being builtaround content linked to content,to content organised and ﬁltered bypeople’s interests and relationships.
Many design projects consider people
as independentactors, interacting with a user interface. So ca!ed‘human-computer interaction’.But people are not independent. We a! live in complexsystems where our behaviour, attitudes and perceptionsare continua!y shaped by other people around us.People live in networks. We are almost always designinghuman-human interaction. HCI interfaces are o$en ameans to an end.
Our social networks are complex
and scaleexponentia!y. We can’t comprehend thecomplexity so we a! live in ‘an invisiblenetwork’ of "iends and "iends of "iends.Our invisible network can dramatica!ychange our behaviour.
If the web is being
rebuilt around people, and people livein networks, then it becomes very clear that we need todesign systems, not destinations.Just as an architect must understand how their newbuilding wi! impact the surrounding landscape, andhow that landscape wi! shape the use of the building,we must understand the network in which what wecreate wi! live. This means understanding a! thecomponents, the relationships between the components,and the ways in which they wi! impact each other.
So it is clear that
designingdestinations (to drive traﬃc to) isbecoming redundant. The bestdesigners wi! design systems, and todo that successfu!y they wi! studyhow people interact with one another.
Social interaction has been studied
by academics sincerecords began. It’s complex, and easy to get lost in thedetails. But we care mostly about shipping greatproducts and services rather than academicthoroughness. So we need to:- Simplify the complexity into three areas.- Look at key research in those areas.- Generate design principles to inform development.- Build and ship something to test if it works.
THREE AREAS OF SOCIAL DESIGNIDENTITYHow
we control how others perceive us.CONNECTEDNESSA! the people we’re connected to and how we feel about a! those people.COMMUNICATIONWhy we talk to people we’re connected to, what we talk about.
We have a personal identity
anda social identity.Therefore design for either personalor social identity.Our personal identity helps us feel unique. Yet this diﬀerentiation isoften illusory, as many people distinguish themselves similarly. Wecan feel unique while objectively looking very similar to others.Our social identity helps us feel the same as others. It is our identitythat is shaped by the world around us. It helps us connect to othersbased on feelings of sameness.Our identity is shaped not just by what we say and do, but also bywhat our connections say and do. They write on our Facebookwalls; their behavior is apparent when beside us in photos. Ourconnections also say things about us, which shapes our identity inthe eyes of others.When people observe us, and judge our identity, they also look atthe people we spend time with, their behavior, and theenvironments we inhabit together.Therefore......when designing, consider both personal or social identity. It’susually best to optimize an experience for one of personal or socialidentity. It’s possible to incorporate both into one experience butthe best way to do so successfully is to consider eachindependently ﬁrst.Facebook Timeline is primarily about personal identity.
Our identity is shaped by
thecommunities we grow up in.Therefore inﬂuence social norms bybuilding on existing communitybehavior.How we see ourselves, and how we wish to represent ourselves toothers, is shaped by years of life experiences, by the cultures andcommunities we grew up in, and by the people we surroundourselves with every day.Our values were transmitted from our family, community, church,profession, society, country, and so on, and are continually reﬁnedby the people we spend time with and the environments we spendtime in. We use everyday conversation to continually shape andreﬁne our identity, which in turn inﬂuences how we act.We’re not born into a neutral environment. We’re born into aspeciﬁc culture, a set of habits and rituals, attitudes and beliefs,that guide how we behave. We learn these unwritten rules fromobserving the behavior of people around us and their reactions toour behavior. Culture is an emergent system. It forms from thecommon actions and behaviors of many people who are reacting toother peoples’ behavior.Therefore......inﬂuence social norms by building on existingcommunity behavior.My Timeline during the Euro 2012 footba! competition.I am Irish and it profoundly impacts how I see the world.
We remain consistent with pastbehavior.Therefore
design new experiences toﬁt with pre-existing beliefs.Once we decide something, we tend to stick to that decision, evenwhen faced with overwhelming evidence to the contrary. This is truefor things we say, things we write down, and things we do. Thiseﬀect is greatest when other people see us act.Even if the decision turns out not to be in our best interests, we stillstick with that decision to be consistent with our past decisions.When we receive new information, we analyze and store it in waysthat reinforce what we already think.We may act one way with one group, forcing us to act consistentlywhen with them in the future, whereas we may act diﬀerently withanother group. These subtle diﬀerences in behavior with ourdiﬀerent groups lead to awkward interactions when these groupscome together, for example, at weddings and birthday parties.Therefore......because of our desire for consistency with past actions, we aremore open to ideas when they ﬁt with our pre-existing beliefs. Itmakes it easier for us to accept the new idea....understanding your consumers’ beliefs is also important fordetermining what they will share. Content that ﬁts their beliefs andpast behavior is much more likely to be shared than content thatconﬂicts with their past behavior.The things I have ‘liked’ in the past wi! inform what I do in the future.
Privacy is a process of
boundarymanagement.Therefore give people privacycontrols in context with other actions.Privacy is about controlling how much other people know about youand is directly related to the relationships we have with otherindividuals. We tell our doctor things we wouldn’t tell our friends.We tell our work peers things we wouldn’t tell our boss. And thereare some things (for example, health issues, inﬁdelity, surpriseparties) that we keep secret from those closest to us.We tell diﬀerent things to diﬀerent people depending on whetherthey are a strong, weak, or temporary tie. People extend the mosttrust to people they know oﬄine.Our strongest ties know our likes and dislikes, our opinions, ourrelationships with others, our character, our emotions, our capacityfor loyalty. We trust them to keep this information private, and notspread it to others unless it’s appropriate.Therefore...... give people privacy controls in context, rather than relying ontheir privacy settings being set appropriately....the best solution for some privacy issues may not be to givepeople lots of controls and options, but to design an environment inwhich the social norms people have oﬄine are replicated online.Facebook redesigned privacy controls to put them ‘in-line’.
People have a very poorunderstanding
of how businessesuse their data.Therefore explain why personal datais needed, and how it wi! be used.People often don’t realize how much information they havedisclosed, and how easily accessible it is. They also tend to forgetwhat they have disclosed in the past.People are aware that by transacting digitally—for example, buyingthings with credit cards, using store loyalty cards, or enteringinformation for online purchases—they are giving personalinformation to the companies they are interacting with. But theydon’t realize that data is increasingly being aggregated, organized,and passed on to advertising networks and independentapplications.Therefore......always explain to people why personal data is needed, and howit will be used. Loyalty is based on trust, and trust is dependent ontransparent interactions....give people the option to remove data that has been previouslyrecorded.
IDENTITYDesign for either personal or
social identity.Build on existing community behavior and norms.Design new experiences to ﬁt with pre-existing beliefs.Give people privacy controls in context.Explain why personal data is needed, how it wi! be used.
A! the people we’re connected
to,a! the people they are connected to,a! the people they are connected to...and how we feel about the peoplewe’re connected to...
Our social network is hardto
visualize.Therefore give su(estions for who tocommunicate with.Our network is all the people we are connected to, and all the peoplethey are connected to.We are born into a network: our parents, our family, their friends.As we grow older, we develop our own network, which slowly changesthroughout our lives. We become closer to some people, we lose touchwith others.People we are indirectly connected to, for example our friends’ friends,can inﬂuence the decisions we make.People ﬁnd it very hard to visualize their network. It is hard toremember who they are connected to, and impossible to know whotheir connections are connected to.Therefore......don’t rely on people being able to remember who they should sharewith, or assume that people have a map of their network. Givesuggestions for who to connect with around diﬀerent pieces ofcontent. These suggestions can be speciﬁc people to connect with, orcan be broader and mapped to the products target users....don’t assume that it is possible to understand how content spreadsby looking at ﬁrst degree connections. The hidden network of secondand third degree connections is often what drives distribution.6 friends like this2 friends listened to thisMatt Brown is going
Who we are connected to
islimited by homophily.Therefore show people things they havein common with others.People associate with people like themselves. This is known ashomophily and is one of the most established patterns of socialscience. Homophily limits who we are connected to.Diﬀerent dimensions separate us from others: geography, race,income, education, religion, personal interests, our access totechnology, and so on.When people are distant in multiple dimensions, they perceive eachother as far apart even though they may be connected. If peopleperceive each other as far apart, they are unlikely to share things.Therefore......if you want people to share content to people they are not very closeto, it is important to surface what people have in common in order toreduce the perceived distance between them. This can includecommon interests or people they both know.Friend requestsAdam Benjamin4 mutual friendsYou both like ArsenalAdnan KhanCJ Hudson and 2 other mutual friendsYou both like surﬁng and 4 other thingsYou and Michael LageThings you both like12 mutual friends2 life events
We have evolved to form
groups.Therefore help people create andstrengthen groups.Groups helped our ancestors stay safe from their predators, andhelped communities survive through the toughest of conditions.Needing to belong to groups is hard-wired into all of us. Manyresearch studies have shown that:We have a tendency to form groups, some of which are based on veryarbitrary characteristics.People will make considerable sacriﬁces for the beneﬁt of their group.In certain situations, groups think better than individuals.Therefore......thinking about how groups are structured is as important as thinkingabout individuals. People are highly motivated to act when it is in thebest interests of a group they belong to....opportunities exist for helping people form new groups andcommunities, especially when they have things in common.College friendsWrite something...Friends using Nike+4 runs 12 runs 7 runsWrite something...
We build relationships throughmany lightweight
interactionsover time.Therefore support lightweight waysfor people to interact.People build relationships with others slowly, one interaction at atime. We often ﬁrst meet others through a friend of a friend. It may bemultiple meetings through mutual friends before we chat to a newperson in-depth, or agree to meet up on our own.It takes months and years to build relationships with people, and theyall are built on many lightweight interactions over time. All thisinteraction used to be face to face, but now these lightweightinteractions happen across multiple communication technologies.Much of our communication with the people closest to us is lightweightinteractions over time. We have quick phone calls, we send textmessages, we use instant messaging, we like and comment on eachothers content.Therefore......support lightweight ways for people to interact and show theaggregations of those lightweight interactions over time.e..g. Like, Comment, Share, Message, Give Gi$, Post.
We have stronger ties with
somepeople and weaker ties with others.Therefore show more information aboutthe people closest to us. Highlight things incommon with those we don’t know so we!.Strong ties are our closest friends and family. They are the people wetrust the most, the people we turn to for emotional support. Mostpeople have fewer than ten strong ties, and many have fewer than ﬁve.The majority of communication is with these people as they are mostlikely to reciprocate attention.Weak ties are often friends of friends, or people we met recently. Wecommunicate with most of our weak ties infrequently. Online socialnetworks are making it easier to feel connected to many of our weakties because we can more easily follow what is happening in theirlives. Our weak ties are at the periphery of our social network, whichmeans they are connected to more diverse information than our strongties. Often new information comes to us from weak ties but we oftenknow less about their knowledge, and whether to trust their judgment.Therefore......build experiences around strong ties by showing more informationabout a small number of close friends rather than less informationabout a greater number of people they don’t know as well...when designing experiences, consider that although people’s weakties may be more knowledgeable than their strong ties, they may trustthem less, so it is important to maximize the amount of trust andfamiliarity between people.Recent purchasesAdam BenjaminBought Levi 511 commuterBought Lacoste Polo blackAdnan KhanBought Nautica dress shirtBought Kenneth Cole short sleeveSee all recent purchases from friendsPaul Adams, Blaise de Persia and 11 others like this.Paul Adams and 2 others are mutual friends.Studied biochemistry. Worked at Kaiser Medical.Has advised 3 friends and 136 others.You and Adam both responded on 3 questions.Adam Benjamin
CONNECTEDNESSGive su(estions for who to
communicate with.Show people things they have in common with others.Help people create and strengthen groups.Support lightweight ways for people to interact.Design for speciﬁc relationship types.
We talk to survive, to
build socialbonds, and to help others.Therefore design experiences thathelp people get through life bybuilding relationships.Communication was an eﬀective survival mechanism for ourancestors, who shared information about food supplies, dangerousanimals, and weather patterns. It continues to help us understandour world, including what behavior is appropriate and how to act incertain situations. People talk because sharing information makeslife easier.People talk to form and grow social bonds. Conversations ensurethat we understand one another. Talking to someone sends outstrong social signals. It shows people that we consider themimportant enough to spend time together. People often like orcomment on an update to build a relationship, independent of thecontent in the update. In many cases, the conversation that followsa status update is much more important than the status updateitself.Many people talk to help others. This is an altruistic act with noexpected reciprocity. For many, it is important to them to beperceived as helpful, and so they try to share content that theythink other people will ﬁnd valuable.Therefore......design experiences that help people build relationships.To support their Olympics 2012 TV campaign around celebrating athletes’mothers, P&G built a lightweight app on Facebook that enabled people totake a moment and thank their mothers - a simple meaningful gesture.
Most of our communication iswith
the people closest to us.Therefore optimize forcommunication between people whoknow each other.We talk to the same, small group of people again and again. Peoplehave consistent communication with between 7 and 15 people, butthat 80% of our conversations are with our ﬁve to ten strongestties.The more people see each other in person or talk on the phone, themore they communicate online.Approximately half of our conversations that mention brands arewith a partner or family member and of these, about 70% happenface to face.Therefore......optimize for communication between strong ties as it is easier tosupport an existing behavior than it is to create a new one. Noexperience you design is likely to have a dramatic eﬀect on whopeople are talking to.Communication patterns map to our network structure.
A large number of ourconversations
are about others.Therefore make it easy for people totalk about others.A large number of our conversations are gossiping about who isdoing what with whom. Only 5% is criticism or negative gossiphowever. The vast majority of these conversations are positive, aswe are driven to preserve a positive reputation.Of the conversations about social relationships, about half are aboutpeople not present.Conversations about other people and their behavior help usunderstand what is socially acceptable in diﬀerent situations byrevealing how the people we’re talking to react to the behavior ofthe person not present.Understanding how others have acted, as well as how the peoplewe care about and trust react to those actions, shapes our behavior.It shapes what ideas we agree with, and how we may behave in thefuture.Therefore......design experiences that help people talk about others, whetherthey are present or not. Help them understand what others aredoing, and with whom, by surfacing this content where appropriate.Seeing "iends’ latest content helps us talk about them.
A large number of ourconversations
are recountingpersonal experiences.Therefore building experiences thata!ow people to talk to others aboutmemories is very powerful.People often talk to others about previous experiences - what theydid, where they went, who they were with, their memories of thoseexperiences. We talk about things that happened recently, all theway back to memories from childhood.Our recollection of past experiences is very inaccurate. Our brainisn’t hard wired to remember details. It only remembers therelationships between things. When it recalls a memory, it ﬁlls in thegaps in detail with ﬁction. This is subconscious, so people don’tknow which details are inaccurate. In fact, the more we remembersomething, the more inaccurate it gets, as each time, more newﬁctional details are added.Therefore......building experiences that allow people to talk to others aboutmemories is very powerful.... there are many opportunities to help people remember pastexperiences more accurately.
We talk about feelingsmore than
facts.Therefore create content that arousesemotion rather than reason.People share content that triggers the most arousing emotions. Thisincludes positive emotions such as awe, and negative emotionssuch as anger and anxiety. Emotions that are not arousing, forexample sadness, do not trigger sharing of content.Content that is positive, informative, surprising, or interesting isshared more often than content that is not, and content that isprominently featured is shared more often than content that is not,but these factors are minor compared to how arousing the contentis.Content that is non-arousing, for example, content that makespeople feel comfortable and relaxed, is unlikely to be shared.Therefore......create content that arouses emotion rather than reason. Resistthe temptation to ﬁll experiences with factual data about people,companies or brands.1. Sate!ite photos of Japan tsunami, before and a$er.2. What teachers rea!y want to te! parents.3. No, your zodiac sign hasn’t changed.4. Parents, don’t dress your girls like tramps.5. Father daughter dance medley (video).6.At funeral, dog mourns the death of Navy SEAL.7. You’! "eak when you see the new Facebook.2011 MOST SHARED ITEMS ON FACEBOOK
COMMUNICATIONDesign experiences that help build
relationships.Optimize for communication between people who knoweach other.Make it easy for people to talk about others.Build experiences that a!ow people to reminisce.Create content that arouses emotion rather than reason.
BACKGROUNDPeople live in networks.Design systems,
not destinations.This is just Design, not Social Design.IDENTITYDesign for either personal or social identity.Inﬂuence social norms by building on existingcommunity behavior.Design new experiences to ﬁt withpre-existing beliefs.Give people privacy controls in context withother actions.Explain why personal data is needed, howit wi! be used.CONNECTEDNESSGive su(estions for who to communicate with.Show people things they have in commonwith others.Help people create and strengthen groups.Support lightweight ways for people to interact.Design for speciﬁc relationship types.COMMUNICATIONDesign experiences that help build relationships.Optimize for communication between people whoknow each other.Make it easy for people to talk about others.Build experiences that a!ow people to reminisceCreate content that arouses emotion ratherthan reason.