Non-verbal Communication in UI

January 18, 2016 § Leave a comment


The UI is part of [a] user’s digital body language.

Very interesting. WHAT we say can only go so far in relaying our intended message. When there’s a lack of body language (in digital, most particularly), we look for other non-verbal signs. Depending on the UI (user interface – how things look) this can be skewed in different ways.

An example is between a Facebook wall post and a chat message. The chat popup window is very small and skinny, so your messages are going to look like they contain more text.

I don’t like posting in one message, like it’s a letter – it feels too overthought. I like posting my thoughts as I have them, so my message appears as several short messages. I’ve often thought this makes me look desperate and like I’m trying too hard or dominating the conversation, but that’s the way my thoughts happen.

Now there’s statistical evidence that my fears were correct: we do judge people on this difference in digital appearance.

Designers must be aware of their role in social UIs and give the same thought to social dynamics that they would to legibility, scalability and others. They must be aware of what social friction they are introducing or reducing, and they need to ask themselves, “How will this UI make my user look to others?” and “How will this UI affect the quality of social interactions?”

Quite weird to think that this HUGE part of how our communication is judged has been designed by others. I choose my clothes because they fit with how I want others to think of me. I can choose my notepaper, I can get my personality across on a call with my voice.

I can’t control the medium that I most often use to relay personal, emotional meaning: social media. The way my words are perceived is strongly affected by how they’re framed. Is this why emojis have become so popular?

Go see the interesting evidence.

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