What is Social Proof?
Social proof (sometimes referred to as “informational social influence”) refers to the tendency of human beings to follow the actions of others when making decisions, placing weight on these actions to assume “the correct decision.” Social proof can be used to deliver credibility to prospective users and promote adoption or acceptance in the design of products and services.
The understanding that people are influenced by other people’s actions is well established and has seen extensive, profitable use in human history. It has led to the incorporation of social proof in the user experience of many websites and applications and in the real world. While the implementation of social proof remains ubiquitous—visible, for example, at the level of seating restaurant patrons by windows—perhaps the most famous examples are the star ratings on Amazon and eBay, and the reviews of products and sellers on these sites. Highly rated and highly recommended products (and sellers) are more likely to be successful than those with poor or no ratings.
Social proof is used for two reasons in user experience design:
- To deliver credibility. If other people find a source useful or credible, we are more likely to believe that source may useful or credible for ourselves.
- To promote adoption and/or acceptance. Volumes of people subscribing to a Facebook page or Twitter feed can encourage others to do the same. Seeing large numbers of people doing something is a psychological indicator to people that they should do the same thing.
Timeless, the power of social proof is undeniable. However, designers must consider the implications it involves. For example, while an organization’s Facebook page may show 10,000 likes, the power of social proof will only be evident if a high rate of engagement with those who like the page is evident.
Literature on Social Proof
Here’s the entire UX literature on Social Proof by the Interaction Design Foundation, collated in one place:
Learn more about Social Proof
Take a deep dive into Social Proof with our course Mobile UX Design: The Beginner's Guide .
In the “Build Your Portfolio” project, you’ll find a series of practical exercises that will give you first-hand experience with the methods we cover. You will build on your project in each lesson so once you have completed the course you will have a thorough case study for your portfolio.
Mobile User Experience Design: Introduction, has been built on evidence-based research and practice. It is taught by the CEO of ExperienceDynamics.com, Frank Spillers, author, speaker and internationally respected Senior Usability practitioner.
All open-source articles on Social Proof
The Seven Simple Principles of Conversion Centred Design (CCD) and How to Use Them
- 806 shares
- 3 years ago
Emotion and website design
The Process of Persuasion — How to Make a Casual Browser an Intrigued User
- 633 shares
- 3 years ago
Making Use of the Crowd – Social Proof and the User Experience
- 553 shares
- 3 years ago
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