User interface design tips for social networking sites, part 2
In this articles predecessor imaginatively entitled “User interface design tips for social networking sites, part 1”, we looked at how personalisation, engagement and real time updates were key elements to the many types of user interfaces, social networking sites need.
This article looks at other key elements for good user interfacing with social network websites in mind.
Forms. The better, more successful social networking sites such as Twitter, Readit, and Facebook, only ask for the bare essentials when a user wants to join. The other information, such as location, age, etc, can be entered once the user gets there. This has an added advantage in that the user does not have to spend lots of time filling in fields, that many users may feel are pointless. You have probably also noticed, that many of these sites do not use a captcha.
The simple rule is the more fields are removed from the register page, the more likely a user is to sign up. If you can remove the confirmation email, so much the better. As this is a big bonus in form streamlining. The easier and quicker a user can start using the site, the better.
Text: Text has subtle importance on many social networking sites. Though it is still essential for content, it has arguably a greater role in defining the hierarchy in a social networking website. It has far reaching influence over navigation, highlighting importance, and defining the many areas of the layout.
Many social networking sites will use different coloured text, larger, smaller text, and different font types to define the different areas of the site. This all works in the background, and the only design elements here is choosing the right font or size of text for the job. This crucial element to user interface, provides subtle instructions to the user, and if used well, can add a seamless dimension to the website’s user interface.
Separation: Following on from the use of text, the best layouts on social networking sites have a very good, subtle separation of the elements on a web page. This can often be something that works in the background, and really, the better separation of the element techniques, are the ones you do not notice.
Very often on sites like Twitter, a simple, thin grey line is all that is needed to show where one element finishes and another one begins. If you look closely at social networking sites, they rarely use big bold text in many different colors, but have fairly bland color schemes that compliment each other. The reason the layouts are configured in this way, is to make it easier for the users to see where one element begins and ends.
When designing your social networking website, ensure that you have incorporated a subtle separation of elements in your design. You will know if it has worked, because people will be able to tell what is where, and wont comment on the thin grey line, or your equivalent of.
We have now looked at six elements in our series, “User interface design tips for social networking sites”, in which we have looked at engagement, personalisation, real time, forms, text, and separation. If you can incorporate these elements, or at least take them into consideration when designing your social networking website, you will have a very good foundation for a successful, popular site.
The next and final part in our series, we will look at the concepts behind large, prominent buttons and their placement, together with the benefits of simplicity. Together with parts 1 and 2, you now have a good reference guide, for creating a better social networking website.