I’ve been putting this one off for a while, but I think it’s time to talk about social UX design, because I’m finally fed up with people frequently doing it wrong, or ignoring those who do it splendidly. Since, partially to my chagrin in some areas, the social revolution has saturated every facet of digital life, social UX is important. How you handle social integration means a lot in how well your website will work, and how well-received it will be.
I once took a stance that social integration needed to be limited to places where it was honestly needed or where it brought something additional to the table. I kind of hated the obsession that people had with Facebook and Twitter, and honestly. But, given how helpful social systems have been in a multitude of things, and how revolutionary it is for customer service and business in the coming years, I’ll grin and bear its overuse in daily life as long as I can elect, personally, to spend some time unplugged when I feel like it. So, let’s take a look at the do’s and don’ts of UX for social integration in your website.
#1 – Choose your demographics
You’re undoubtedly going to want to provide some short cut buttons so that users may like your posts, share your links, follow you, or sign in to your site with their social network accounts. Know your demographic and know which of the eighty billion times infinity social networks are most likely to be used by your visitors. This isn’t rocket science, because if they share your interests, chances are they use the same networks you do. Allow for some slack and add a couple mainstays you personally may not normally use but others might, just for reach.
#2 – Agency is important
Don’t force your visitors to use social networks in order to get the most out of your site. If you have accounts, allow them to make a local one if they don’t want to log in with a social network account, and don’t make them follow or like you on one if they don’t use them. Some people don’t use social networks heavily, and they will be put upon if the social orientation of your site is mutually exclusive.
#3 – Don’t use floating pads
Floating pads are little web elements that maintain a position somewhere on the page, no matter how much you scroll. I hate these and so does most of humanity. I bring them up, because a lot of people love to put the like buttons and social network pins on these floating pads, where they’re in your face.
I admit to using a Chrome extension that lets me block elements on pages to banish these pesky house flies from my sight, simply because I hate floating pads regardless their purpose. I know at least a hundred others who do the same thing. Stop it!
#4 – Avoid Chattango and other chat apps
Chattango, and similar systems are a descendant of the old web chat room systems like BeSeen and Zendog, and are little applets that can be integrated into pages. They allow anonymous or named communication passively. While I defend Flash, they all are very bad flash programming. They hog resources, and nobody with anything useful to say has ever been spotted on them. Don’t use these. It’s ok to make your pages more of a social location, but these things are just excessive and unnecessary.
#5 – Use a forum, but don’t make it required
Like social networking, don’t make users sign up for your forum in order to read it, or in order to visit your site. But, have a forum in place. Don’t rely on a social network of external origin as the only place visitors to your site can talk to one another and yourself. While chat applets are a bad idea, forums are not. Social UX is important, and people keep making these mistakes and it breeds malice for social integration that is unjustified, as I have exemplified in my tone today I think.