From Social Patterns
The user wants a distinct list of people they know (friends, coworkers, family) to communicate with in real-time.
Use this pattern when offering just in time communications, like instant messaging.
The buddy list is a list of people a user wants to keep track of.
- Indicate which users are currently online (see Presence or OPI).
- Indicate which users are offline.
- Indicate when a user may be busy and not taking messages but is still online.
- Consider indicating when a user is idle, which often indicates that the user is not at the computer or is engaged in another task.
- Allow users to organize their buddies into meaningful groupings, like friends, family, golf buddies, work peeps, etc.
- Consider allowing the creation of on-the-fly group chats through the selection of multiple people in a buddy list.
- Consider storing messages sent to a buddy for later retrieval, if the message is sent when they are no longer online.
- Enhance recognition by allowing the user to add nicknames or friendly names to their view of the buddy list.
- Enhance recognition and user expression by presenting the buddy’s name or nickname with their avatar.
Real time communications and the buddy list to support them, add an immediate and real-life component to what are often asynchronous experiences online.