Intuitive vs. Shareable Design (turning users to evangelists)


Found this in a Josh Elman article, and I think it’s interesting.

The second shift, and this is what many interface designers don’t yet understand, is that people learn how to do things in the real world by watching others. The way most 18 year olds learn how to use a new app is by watching their friends. It’s right there, on their friend’s phone, so they just pull the phone out and show them something.

This is actually a return to the way we’ve always learned to do things in the world. You learned to throw a ball, pick up a cup, tie your shoes, and open a door by watching others. When you were older you probably learned how to ride a bike or drive a car by having someone show you how to do it. So if software is more physical now (in app form), why shouldn’t we learn how to do it by watching other people?

Do you want to know how to use Snapchat? Toparaphrase Groucho Marx, it’s easy: Just find a teenager to show you. Someone who uses the app a lot can show you everything from how to take a picture and draw on it to using filters, getting the secret pen colors like black and white, use face swap, add friends with a QR code, and more.

On shareable design…

Shareable design understands this deeply social nature of how humans learn, and capitalizes on people’s desires to learn and to teach.

Snapchat does this brilliantly, because each of those seemingly obscure features is an opportunity for its users to show their friends how to do something cool. Showing your friends something cool can increase your social standing, or maybe it just gives you a good feeling. Either way it’s something you want to do! And for Snapchat, that’s great, because it’s converting you into an evangelist for its product, and you don’t even feel like you’re evangelizing: You’re just showing your friends how to do something neat.

Have you seen any startups in this neck of the woods use ‘shareable design’? I haven’t. Yet. It’s mostly hamburger menus. Are designers over here playing it safe and replicating the familiar? Will users who are only just coming online feel alienated by any non-conventional design tropes? Or maybe the use cases African startups design apps for do not call for anything else? @leslie, @udezekene, @efemoney @moyinoluwa thoughts?


I haven’t either :slight_smile:

I like the definition of Sharable design; to be honest this concept is fairly new to me and I’ll definitely spend time checking it out.

However in his article his examples of Snapchat’s brilliant design (PS: I’m in awe of that the Snap team did here) & may have done his concept (Sharable Design) a disservice considering they are both apps were literally meant for sharing.

I gave this a quick thought: Assume Snapchat the app didn’t make dog filters when I swipe, instead it showed users or a subject (another human) if they had HPV, HIV or detects a type of cancer. Unarguable the shareability of that app & experience will be greatly limited. Cause I’m not sure my friend will appreciate it if I point the camera to her boyfriend and go: “Wa wu! His gonorrhea is strong!”.

Same snapchat, same design, same UX, different use case, less sharable design. Because of the usecase (health) the app gets personal & private.

####On why we don’t have designs pushing conventions from this side of the world?

I think there are a few reasons why this isn’t happening:

  1. The local application of technology is still at the phase where we are trying to solve fundamental problems like buying something online, transferring money or ordering a cab (we’re the worst at this). We don’t have a lot of people solving “3rd-world-type-problems” like adding filters to pictures or getting more likes out of my 9sec video. If I built an app Y’all and all it does it say “Y’all” to a group of people, most of you will question my sanity and I’ll be incredibly lucky to get more than 1000 downloads from playstore no matter how much learning & discovery I design into the app.

  2. Most of the ideas we are implementing already elsewhere so people simply take what works and apply it. Not a lot of people focus on user research, they just want to build and ship (also why most apps/digital products fail here).

  3. We don’t have enough designers. Sadly design talent is finite. So the good ones are already overwhelmed working on the “fundamental problems” I mentioned point 1. A few are lucky enough to find time to try out new things - push boundaries.

  4. For a country of 150+ million, our technology literacy (i’m not sure it’s a thing but you get my point) is incredibly low. The literacy level of my 4yr old cousin here in lagos is different from an average 5yr old in osun. It’s not just the iPad exposure my cousin has, it’s lagos as a whole that influences her learnings.

If our collective literacy is raised, I don’t think Nigerian/African users will have an issue adopting non-conventional design.


This makes a TON of sense. I wasn’t taking the most common use cases into consideration. LOL @ this:[quote=“udezekene, post:2, topic:9572”]
Cause I’m not sure my friend will appreciate it if I point the camera to her boyfriend and go: “Wa wu! His gonorrhea is strong!”.


And yet I kinda think that this app would go “viral”… just that the subject will be strangers. If you see how casual Nigerians are with the difficulties of others, you’ll realise that being able to stand in Shoprite and see who has HIV will be a big deal.

That being said, I’d like to think that tech illiteracy is both a problem and opportunity. Most of us learnt how to load airtime, not from a manual, but from a friend. I guess there’s the opportunity for people to show others how to use apps - maybe not make it difficult to adopt psychologically; like, “you should know this” so they don’t ask for help “calling an Uber”.


moonwalks away from stage


I’m a developer, but I have a bit of design knowledge. I started out in tech designing fliers and posters so I was exposed to concepts like white space, flat design and minimalism quite early. I later decided to venture fully into development but I still read up a lot on design. At this stage, I know a good design when I see one and can work with a mobile designer to modify one, but I can no longer start the process of creating them myself.

Like @udezekene, I’m new to the shareable design concept but I’ve seen a lot of intuitive design (thanks to Material) crop up in the past few years. I also agree with everything he wrote above.

I haven’t either.

So Material Design (MD) gives designers a lot of guidelines to follow when designing Android Apps. While this standardization (read Intuitive Design) is good, a major side effect is that a lot of mobile designers are now lazy. The easiest way to design a mobile app now is to have a drawer with a list of all the functions listed. Before Material, it used to be a splash screen which led to a grid of menus on the landing page of the app. A lot has been said about how the Hamburger Menu is bad UX though. I started looking out for apps built without hamburger menus a while ago. It appears egbon Slack has joined bad gang now. It takes a lot of work to be able to take the MD guidelines and treat it just as it is… guidelines, while designing apps that don’t break the rules but don’t look conventional too.

Probably. It was quite easy for my mum to jump on Telegram because she was used to WhatsApp and knew what Hamburger Menus did.

Nope. At least not in this case (Please click on the screenshot to read the whole thread). By the way, I received some horrible design portfolios. I just cannot share them here.


On Android apps using the Navigation Drawer, it depends on the use case, if your app doesn’t need a drawer, then don’t use a drawer. Only that the Navigation drawer is so deeply rooted in the Android platform, you can almost not do without it, so deep Nougat even has a navigation drawer in the Settings app.

But it still depends on the app’s context, Chrome, Youtube, Vsco, Spotify, Snapseed don’t use drawers and they are great.