The Problem With The Feed

Social media platforms have traditionally been designed around the concept of a “feed”. This feed is typically organized chronologically, with the most recent content appearing at the top. The focus on the feed has led to an emphasis on frequent posting and engagement, as well as the use of algorithms to determine which content is shown to each user. The feeds were somewhat okay until it was showing updates from friends or family but now we all know feeds are more than that. Our feeds nowadays involve updates from brands, organizations, causes we care about and whole lot of other things including ads. This leads to missing content or updates that we actually care about. The feed can also result into information overload. Almost every platform uses feed as a medium to maximize engagement with platform. While at the same time they have no regard for users time.

We Can Do Better

Imagine this, you open your social media app and you are presented with a list or a grid of avatars of your friends and family. Once you click avatar of someone you are presented with below options

  • Blog
  • Gallery
  • Stories/Highlights
  • Pins (anything that user wants to share with visitor)
  • User defined or anything else

Now this app supports which option to open by default on clicking avatar, so if you are interested only in stories of your friends and family then clicking those avatars will directly take you to user stories. Also you have option to pin few people so that those people always show up on top of your grid. I think the advantages with this approach are quite obvious but let me list them anyway.

  1. Saves time: Unlike feed, here you choose what updates you want to view. Infinite scrolling is a trap to keep the user captive with the portal and increase engagement.

  2. Discourages app use: Unlike existing social media paltforms that find ways to keep you engage with their app, this design discourages use of app. After some time, people will just leave the app because going back and forth is harder than scrolling the page for miles.

  3. You never miss updates: Updates from people just sit there until you open them. You can view user profiles and their content at your convenience and hence never miss updates.

  4. Encourages interaction with others: If you want to know someone better you just open their profile and you have everything from their likes to blogs and stories at one place. The user is more likely to engage with selected profile when all their content is in one place.

  5. Reduction in noise: With feeds, people interact with the content in real time and this is more likely to cause debates and more engagement which is good for the platform but not the user. If people want to have discussions then they should use forums or reddit not a social media app. Our app by its design strongly discourages real time interactions on the content and hence less noise.

I think this kind of user centric design of apps and services is need of time. Here is a trading platform that actually focusses on user centric design and they have been highly succesful in their field. I think we need to do something similar in social media space and in other fields too. The obvious diadvantage of such a platform is that the growth is not astronomical. So yes, the possibility that no one is going to build this kind of social media platform is very real!

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