Connect or disconnect, this is a question for UI and UX design

The UI and UX design of social media becomes popular since people get more dependent on the software or app to communicate with people. Therefore, innovative functions focus on communication design appear, which is for people to use for interacting with others. The process of communicating can be simplified as pressing a button, clicking an emoji icon or using tags. These interfaces are designed to help users quickly and effectively express their emotions or messages so that other users can be clear of what they are communicating. However, are these functions actually help the communication? Do they extend the distance between people and make them closer to the virtual world instead of the reality? The invention of ‘like’ button, emoji and tags break down the interactions in communication process although they are convenient for communications design.

As diverse social media apps appear, people do everything with holding smartphones since we persuade ourselves that we are connecting with the world. From last year, Facebook came up with a new feature on the interface that most users are excited. It offers more reaction buttons other than only Like or Comment[1]. The reaction buttons includes several emojis as a kit that is displayed with Like button, which allow users to be more expressive. After this new feature was launched, a lot of posts are overwhelmed with those different emojis. However, these do not make a big difference with what a Like buttons do since the buttons are one-way communication, there is no reversed feedback. In order to quickly communicate, users tend to compress their messages into a reaction icon. They simply click on a button instead of making textual comments under the posts. The feature provides users an illusion that they are interacting with others since a reaction button is enough to express their emotions. This helps with saving time, but meanwhile, it can reduce an opportunity to get a real connection. In comparison, the comments gain more possibilities of exchangeable messages that enhance communicating process between people.

Another example is ‘tag’ feature on Instagram. It helps users to tag friends and any objects in their pictures to make short introduction or description, which allow other users to know everything about their pictures. This omits a step of starting a real conversation between users, which may become an interesting discussion of the post. With using a ‘tag’ feature, users gain information that they interested in without any interaction. Communication is a circulated process that involves two or more people to present and get feedbacks. If users already know everything through a ‘tag’, will they do one more step to talk with others? This is a long-term effect that immensely breaks down opportunities of being connected and result in users’ intention of choosing quickest but not detailed way to interact with each other.

In this digital era, people are focusing on saving the communication cost, and social apps become an inevitable choice. The problem is what users intentionally want to get from social media apps. Do they pursue the efficiency without details or they need both? It is valuable for UI and UX designers to think about designing of apps as a tool to assist people to communicate instead of increasing the efficiency by eliminating communication. Interface is the solid model of social media’s function and the goal is to decrease the distance between people. It should not only enhance the efficiency of communication, but also create more space for users to get connected. As a matter of fact, online communication has involved various different forms, including textual and visual. Currently, there are numbers of designers post their redesigned UI interface works on social media. It is necessary to consider how can an interface provide more function that strengthens the communication process. A good interface design should pay more attention to the relationship between people.

[1] Singh, A. S., J., Jaitly, R., & N. (2016, February 03). Facebook Offers You To Be More Expressive With Some Cool New Emoji’s. Retrieved April 03, 2017, from http://www.rapidleaks.com/technology/facebook-offers-you-to-be-more-expressive-with-some-cool-new-emojis/