What are the design principles for making an application truly social?

Design Principles

In short the answer to this question is turning the design on its head and focusing on “user centered design”. Ok, so that is the short answer, so what is the long one I hear you ask? Well this is about truly making an application social.

The utopia approach here is what has been called Universal Design – this is where you aim for that point where any product’s function should be immediately apparent, and anyone should be able to use it. Totally intuitive and no grey areas.

So is User-Centered Design (UCD) and Universal Design the same thing? No, not quite but aiming for either (or both) is what would make any app truly social as it will appeal to all elements within any social infrastructure. Yes this is also not the end of the approach, we are in an online evolution and technology and these apps do need to be truly social.

UCD is applicable to all of the intangible technology-based products that focus on user needs to drive design solutions and improve efficiency. It has been used in software, desktop design, apps, and mobile software. All with the aim to grain universal appeal, accessibility and improve efficiency. Yet this approach can make an app easy to use but would it make it social?

In recent years with the onslaught of social platforms such as Twitter, Facebook and Pinterest to name a few and advancements in mobile technology that most designers recognize from 2008 with the launch of the iPhone – we are social. Every app or website now, it is fair to say has some element of social contained within it. Social interactions has been the newest and to date, the most powerful and far-reaching use of the internet. This has now led to an evolution in social centered design principles.

Social centered design (SCD) are the core principle that makes any app social and this simply means adopting design principles that puts the essential social elements of our lives at the heart of the technology. This means generating a sense of ownership and belonging, or community elements. Next, you need to make the design principles integrated, make them a part of the end-users life – can anyone now manage daily life without a mobile phone and at what point did the mobile phone cease to be a phone? With all the apps that we can source, download, design and buy, a mobile phone is a very detailed, all-encompassing lifestyle accessory that helps with every function of our modern lives. The Apple phrase “there’s an app for that” is a truly integrated part of modern life…is there an app for that? The answer is probably!

To really add a social element, make sure there is an incentive to use and share and engage the end-users emotions. Consumption is only part of the experience, contributing to the social world is also vitally important so allowing the end-user to get involved is essential; sharing is a great way to tick that box.  SCD IS successful design and designing social drivers into products will become an essential part of all designs for a truly successful app. If you want to explore truly social apps using the very latest design principles then you need to speak to the team at Net Solutions’ who will be able to make your app concept into a truly social reality.

Anand Bhusari

About the Author

Anand Bhusari heads creative group at Net Solutions and has been in this field from past 15 years possessing vast experience in print, web and mobile. Anand thinks simplicity is the key to design. He is apple fanboy and loves spending time with his family.

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Amanpreet Singh

11:50 AM, Sep 04, 2012

Nice article.

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