Saturday, October 8, 2011

[CS2102] Social Network Design Tips

1. Simple Interface is The Key
Vivid visual design isn't really useful on social networking sites. SOcial applications are supposed to provide a shared environment where the content can be easily produced and where conversations can take place -a strong visual deign would create unnecessary noise and make it harder for users to focus on their conversations.
In other words, since the information flow is quite large for most users, it is almost natural to make the interface as simple as possible. If the interface is overdone with graphical elements, users will fell uncomfortable and confused, since it will be hard to focus on specific tasks or areas. Simple interface does't just mean a simple visual design, though. More importantly, it means the available interface options are designed, places and presented in a intuitive way.
The colors on social media and social networking sites are always calm and supportive, rather than bright and obnoxious. Features do not fight for attention; many of them remain invisible most of the time. In fact,  most social media interfaces are  CONTEXT-SENSITIVE, displaying many features only "on demand". With such a large amount of data and functions, bright colors would simply get in the way and distract the user.

2. Prominent and Functional Search
Good search functionality is undoubtedly the pinnacle of good usability and good user interface. The search functionality is a must-simply because of the vast about of available information. THe search, however, has multiple dimensions.
A common feature in social applications is the use of live search results and filtering. When you type into the box, the results are filtered out in a drop- down style. The filtering helps users to quickly find the content  they are looking for and get rid of any contact that isn't relevant to them. You want the experience to be fine tuned to each individual user and filtering searches does just this.

3. Prominent Call- To - Action -Buttons.
While links are often more passive and subtle, buttons are often used to animate users to actions. Buttons are also often larger, more vivid and more memorable. No matter what task a button performs, it needs to be large and clickable. It is better to add the embossing-effect in stead of just changing the color of the button or its border.
It is also important to mentions the importance of hover effects. The hover effect lets the user know that the button is intact clickable and confirm that the user's actions is understood by the system.

4. Calm Separation of Elements
A meaningful organization and presentation of various chunks of informations is probably one of the advanced design problems that designers of social user interface have to deal with. In order to make the content readable, scannable and easy to perceive, content blocks need to be visually separated. In other words, each element needs to be defined as and presented a separate element in some way. In fact, the separation of elements in a layout is one of the most simple ways to achieve a more clean user interface that the user can easily interact with.

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