Facebook: Interface affects engagement.

Facebook is the content creator/aggregator on the internet as far as social content goes. After all these years of being a hardcore user, it became obvious (on hindsight) that the constant interface redesign had a intrinsic relationship to how we would engage with the content.

Let us use an example here, and talk about the display of photos on the news feed.

It used to be that you could only like orcomment on the album itself on the news feed, if more than one photograph was uploaded on the same album. This “forced” me into uploading my photographs one at a time with spaced intervals, just so that I could get people to appreciate and comment on the photographs one at a time, rather than the wholesale skim and dismiss approach that comes with overdigestion. Too much information results in mental fatigue and the brain’s abrupt dismissal of the presented content.

Facebook has seemed to recognise this problem though, and has come up with a half measure. A Like button appears if you hover your mouse above the displayed photos on the feed, which of course makes it convenient for friends to Like your photograph. On the downside, not all uploaded photographs are displayed and there is no improvement for leaving a comment (outside of clicking on the photograph and going into Theater mode). Better, but not best.

A cool solution might be allowing a “Display more photos” option when a user uploads more than nine photos (current limit for displaying on news feed) at a time. Upon mouseover, a Comment option is clickable. That in turn pops a dialog box up with existing comments and a field for the new comment to be entered. In essence, the number of clicks is the same, but the appearance of a dialog box without going into another screen gives the illusion that the user is “multi-tasking” rather than “progressing” onto another task.

Random UX thoughts on a quiet Tuesday.

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