Why we like and save?

There are few problems in software products which seem to be going on for ages. The most notable one is the Todo list.

I get what Ev is saying, having personally tried multiple ways to manage todos over the years. (I am currently using Wunderlist after having tried many others)

Another similar challenge with products is explaining users how like and save differ in intent. I was reminded of this when I saw a recent TechCrunch headline from Sarah Perez — Google Maps lets you save and share favorite places with launch of Lists. As I wrote in my earlier post about travel products, I have used Google Maps’ starred feature to save places for a long time so I was intrigued about the changes in this feature.

Image courtesy TechCrunch

I was disappointed to see Google replace the current one-tap Save button with a more complex work-flow which requires the user to select a list while starring/saving a place. Current Maps users would be familiar to Starred places, so what is Favorites? Sarah had the same question:

It seems like Starred places and Favorites could have some overlap, but the intention with Stars is to allow users to save a personal list of places they need to reference, that aren’t necessarily those they would call “Favorites.” For example, a doctor’s office or school might be Starred, but not favorited.

Multiple apps have faced this challenge of an overlap between two primary actions. The best example that most people will know of is Twitter. Twitter had a favorite button (with a star icon) very early in its history (November 2006). Favorite was used with the dual intent of like and bookmark. Twitter believed that replacing favorite with like will make more users adopt the feature and also make it easier for new users to understand the product. So, favorite (stars) was replaced with like (hearts) in November 2015.

In a blog post, Twitter said:

We are changing our star icon for favorites to a heart and we’ll be calling them likes. We want to make Twitter easier and more rewarding to use, and we know that at times the star could be confusing, especially to newcomers. You might like a lot of things, but not everything can be your favorite.

Twitter’s heart pre-dated Facebook & Tumblr’s like buttons. Although many agreed that it was a good move by Twitter, regular users lamented the loss of an often-used action. The most succinct response was from Anil Dash:

The current trend in many social apps has evolved to have a like button (light weight action to express endorsement) and a save button (bookmark the object for later, often private). Pinterest is an exception having changed its ‘Pin It’ button to ‘Save’ which is a public action by default.

Platforms like Facebook, Medium & Youtube have a clear hierarchy of actions. ‘Save’ is the secondary action that gets lesser prominence in UI than ‘like’. In cases where they get similar prominence, the UX can become confusing. Lets take the example of ‘Save’ on Instagram

I am often confused whether I should save or like. As a user, I can go to my profile and access my likes similar to how I access my saves (Likes takes an extra step with the kebab/3 dot menu) . The difference here is that save is a private action whereas like is public. Unlike Twitter, you cannot see any other user’s likes on Instagram from their profile. If privacy is the core reason behind separating likes and saves, it is not very convincing.

In a blog post introducing Saved posts, Instagram says:

When you stumble upon a funny video you want to remember, a new outfit you like or even inspiration for an upcoming vacation, you can now keep track of favorite posts right from your profile.

Should saving a post automatically like it? I would love to see how many users are saving, but not liking a post. When a user saves the post, why will she will be concerned about not letting the post author know that she ‘likes’ the post?

An interesting approach that I have seen is from the social shopping platform Wanelo. They have a single ‘Save’ action which asks the user to select a collection similar to Pinterest. Keeps the whole thing very simple.


Wanelo has only one action — Save

There is tremendous value in the likes we leave all across social platforms. It is good to see that platforms are getting serious about capturing the bookmark intent behind like with a separate action. If users start going to their likes/saves to discover products & services at a later point, it will increase the value of the interactions that happen on social platforms.