Love is [always] all around…

Yesterday Facebook introduced globally the possibility of expressing other emotions in addition to the consolidated “like” icon.

The new FB icons in addition to the consolidated “like” one.

Among the 5 new icons, the one which captured my attention was the “love” one. I was so surprised to see that the famous Facebook “like” button was not enough and there was still room for “love”. Love (passion) is really the driving factors of our lives, despite many following money or power only. This also reminded me of an old post I wrote some time ago (it was August 2015) for Newscron, the start-up where I was working at that time: the title of that blog post is the same of this one, so the content: love is all around.

It has been some weeks since we started working on the feature that we are very proud to introduce today: “the love button“. This feature was conceived during our camp in Mallorca more than one month ago (beginning of June 2015). We were seated around a big TV set listening to each other’s project when it was the turn of Filip Matijević. He started with the nice slide below. His idea was to add the possibility of “interaction” to our mobile app, specifically in regards to curated articles and selections of multiple articles.

Filip Matijević’s first slide of June 9th 2015 on what later became the “love” button.

At the end of the evening Filip’s proposal received enough consensus and the team was set up: Filip, Andrei and myself. The morning after, a cup of coffee helped us to really start our little nice hackathon. The first problem to solve was to identify which component of the app we wanted to make more interactive. After a brief consultation we decided that articles were the most natural component to enhance. In fact, we already have a “share this article” functionality in our app but we had the feeling that something was still missing there. The next step was, therefore, to investigate how others previously approached the same problem.

How others solved the “interaction” problem…

Facebook Like and Twitter favourite were the obvious examples to look at but digging a bit more we noticed that Facebook thumbs up and Twitter stars were only one side of the Web. On the other side the Web was full of “hearts”: Pinterest, Foursquare/Swarm, Kickstarter or Apple Music were offering “hearts” icon to their users to express appreciation for their own provided content (and now even Twitter — Novembre 2015 and Facebook — February 2016 introduced a “love” button). My Italian side immediately took control over me and I started to imagine purple hearts everywhere in our app. Andrei and Filip had to use all their force to make me stop singing “Love is all around” so that we could start designing the first paper mock-app and compile a first todo list.

Mock-app, todo list and Filip started coding.

In the afternoon, we started coding what we had designed in the morning: Filip was building up the Android app while Andrei and I extended the database and the backend (that thing that nobody sees but immediately notices when it is not working). It took the whole afternoon, evening and a good part of the night to set up the backbone of what later became “the love button“. Some fine tuning was still missing when we decided that the Android app and the backend were working decently enough together to be present the morning after to the other component of the team, who were working on another project (codename “Media Extension”, but this is another story).

First draft of the love button for articles (end of 24 hours hackathon, 10th June)

The presentation went nice and once back in Lugano/Osijek, it took several weeks (or sprints of our Agile planning) to refine that first prototype, port it to iOS and test it long enough to declare it ready to be launched. Meanwhile, we also reasoned a lot on the name, meaning and design of that button, to discover that “the love button” well represented the passion (love) we put in developing the Niuws app and the curators in selecting the best articles. Nevertheless, while working on our love button we discovered that others were also experimenting on the same field, such as Twitter with their hearts experiment or Flipboard likes.

Screenshot of the love button — Android app

Now it is the time for our user to express their appreciation (love) for the articles that come fresh every day in their boxes: just open the Niuws app and let each curator know which articles you like the most… What if you like all the articles in a selection? Just click “the love button” on all of them and the curator will have a great day in receiving so much “love”.

I think that’s the greatest thing in the world — love

Part of this was originally published as a blog post for on August 2015.