Facebook users are getting prepared to meet much more expressive news feeds as the world’s most popular social network announced it’s totally redesigned “like” button.
After months of user testing in a handful of countries, the net today announced the release of “Reactions” to the rest of the world. The feature can’t be considered as a new one, it’s an extension of an existing “like” button.
By long-pressing—or, on a computer, hovering—over the “like” button, users can now access five additional animated emoji with which to express themselves. Each emotive icon is named for the reaction it’s meant to convey. “Like” you already know—say hello to “love,” “haha,” “wow,” “sad,” and “angry”.
The novelty is the product of more than a year of research and experimentation, revealed Facebook Product Manager Sammi Krug. “We totally understand that the Like button is incredibly iconic, it’s been doing great things for Facebook for the last seven years.”
He went on, saying that the team spent months conducting research and surveying users to hone in on what, exactly, was missing from the Like button, though users have been begging for a “dislike” option starting from the appearing of the Like.
“Mark gathered a bunch of people in a room and was like, ‘hey we’ve been hearing this feedback from people for a really, really long time,’” recalled Julie Zhuo, a product design director at Facebook who worked on the reactions release.
Emoji are more than playful shorthand for the written word. About 70 percent of meaning derived from spoken language comes from body language and facial expression, suggests Vyvyan Evans,a professor of linguistics at Bangor University who studies the use of emoji in communication.
“The stratospheric rise of emoji,” in text messaging, on Facebook, and elsewhere, he says, “is essentially fulfilling the function of nonverbal cues in spoken communication.”
The main challenge that Facebook faced was deciding which emoji should be used. There are hundreds to choose from, but Zhuo and the design team wanted to keep users’ options limited. “It was really important that we made the thing people do billions of times a day [i.e. like a post], not any harder,” Zhuo explained.
So, the creative team took a decision to focus on the sentiments its users expressed most often. Zhuo and her colleagues began by analyzing how a subset of Facebook users from around the world used the platform.
They looked at the most frequently used stickers, emoji, and one-word comments and found a few common emotional threads amidst an ocean of diverse sentiments. “When we built the stickers for Facebook the most common thing people sent was love,” Keltner said.
Sources familiar with the matter say that Facebook chiefs understand that just as with the Like button or with comments overall, once the novelty do come to your feed, you will be stuck with them as there is no option to turn off responses as publishers sometimes do with comments on articles in websites.
Giving users the option to turn off the emoji was “somethng we considered”, Adam Mosseri, Facebook’s director of product, said, but they decided against it. “If you think about the user experience first, that option could become confusing, with people thinking something was broken instead.”