Designing for social norms (or how not to create angry mobs)
“Good UX designers know that they have the power to shape certain kinds of social practices by how they design systems. And engineers often fail to give UX folks credit for the important work that they do. But designing the system itself is only a fraction of the design challenge when thinking about what unfolds. Social norms arenâ€™t designed into the system. They donâ€™t emerge by telling people how they should behave. And they donâ€™t necessarily follow market logic. Social norms emerge as people â€“ dare we say â€œusersâ€ â€“ work out how a technology makes sense and fits into their lives. Social norms take hold as people bring their own personal values and beliefs to a system and help frame how future users can understand the system. And just as â€œfirst impressions matterâ€ for social interactions, I cannot underestimate the importance of early adopters. Early adopters configure the technology in critical ways and they play a central role in shaping the social norms that surround a particular system.”
Danah Boyd is a researcher at Microsoft Research New England and Fellow at the Harvard Berkman Center for Internet and Society.