Social Proof User Experience (UX) topic overview/definition

Social Proof: Concept Definition

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:

  1. 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.
  2. 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.

For your convenience, we’ve collected all UX literature that deals with Social Proof. Here’s the full list: