From Social Patterns
A user has found people she knows on a social site and wants to add them to her circle of connections.
- Use when user connections are a core part of the site’s experience.
- Use when relationships will be confirmed providing a two-way reciprocal relationship.
- Use when allowing one user to follow another participant without reciprocity.
- Use when ignoring a connection request is allowed.
Once a user has found people they care about (see Finding People) on your site. There should be an easy way to add these people as connections.
Provide a clear link (button or text/icon combination) call to action to Add this person as a friend.
Once the person has been added as a friend, clearly indicate to the user that this person is now a friend.
Confirming Friendship / Two way
Requiring two-way relationships encourages a network that more closely resembles real world relationships.
Clearly indicate when selecting “add as a friend” that the relationship must be confirmed by the other party before it will exist or be recognized on the site.
Likewise, alert users when a connection request is being made.
An alternative to reciprocal relationships is the one-way connection. This type of connection is best used when the content is more important than a personal relationship. This is essentially a subscription to the person’s activities and contributions within the system.
Consider labelling the default action in a way that doesn’t imply an intimate or real life relationship, like “friends” or “family”. Instead use terminology like “Contacts”, “Fan” or “Follow”.
When a connection is made, alert the connected person that a connection has been made.
If two parties connect to each other – in a mutual one-way connection – acknowledge the connection.
Allow users to ignore connection requests.
Clearly indicate what the consequences of “Ignore” will be otherwise the outcome will be a collection of neglected connection requests living in some sort of perpetual purgatory. Many people won’t actively Ignore someone because it isn’t clear what will happen if they select Ignore. They fear insulting the person who is making the request even though this isn’t a person they would consider connecting with.
Once the Ignore button is clicked, a confirmation of that action is presented but it still doesn’t say what happens with that action.
Facebook’s UI offers some good options, but they fall short on setting expectations for the user for Ignore and Block actions. Does the requestor get a message that they are being ignored? If the requestor isn’t notified, then the action is the same as no action. Does Ignore block this person from requesting a connection again? Or is that what happens with the Block link?
Allowing users to connect to each other encourages conversations and sharing amongst networks of people resulting in viral growth of the site.
People want to do things with their friends or with others who have similar interests, allowing them to connect strengthens these ties.
- Maintained Relationships on Facebook (Cameron Marlow)