Thoughts on The Power and Importance of Digital Reactions

Reactions. You have them, I have them, we react and respond to changes within and without our lives all the time.

What we’ve been introduced to relatively recently is the ability to react and respond digitally. It might seem like forever ago but reactions to content is still, on the much larger scale timetable, a relatively new idea.

It has, of course, been popularized by things like MySpace and the like and now networks like Twitter has it at the very core of the product. Without reactions, broadly-speaking, Twitter would be nothing. Just marinate on that for a moment.

And so, not unsurprisingly, the techno-cultural winds have changed and now the internet expects there to be some form of “reaction” to what we see, read, and hear. We expect that we can respond in some way, shape, and form and that this is how we communicate.

In fact, sometimes the reaction is the communication and it can speak volumes to the content creator. Again, think about the amount of power a few “likes” (and “dislikes”) can really bring; it can tell the creator whether they should continue down a particular path or abandon it altogether.

It’s almost too powerful. Consider for a moment that these reactions can, quite literally, direct the very course of our lives. Is that hyperbole at its finest? Actually, frankly, no.

Speaking for myself, I’ve made clear decisions around how I spend the most precious resource that I have based on the reactions of folks (i.e. customers) that I encounter online.

If 1,000 folks say they want X, or Y, or Z feature in one of my products then I’m very inclined to put that on the product roadmap and invest serious time into building it out, thus spending my time based on these digital reactions.

And this is the very foundation upon which good and effective product management works, right? We spend time interviewing early customers and test groups so we can get reactions in order to categorize, organize, and massage our product features.

So, even in our current iterations, as we work through building out a system of reactions to the timeline and feed we care deeply about not only how it looks but also how it impacts decision-making. We care deeply about what it says (and doesn’t say) to the end-user.

Ultimately, with zero hyperbole, we simply care deeply and emphatically about how it changes people’s lives.

Here’s a quick look at one design and product iteration:

A piece of feed content.

Above you’ll see one update to the feed created by our system related to Jeff creating a new issue while working on the product. Nolan, designing our core UX, has added a “reaction” layer below the content:

A closer look.

Again, this is just a first pass, but, for those building software it should be immediately reminiscent of GitHub’s reaction layer:

Options to choose from via GitHub.

GitHub reactions on the content.

But, unlike GitHub we have a ton of different options available to us and we can begin to introduce some really neat visuals and actionable data for engineering operations, like showcasing the actual milestone detail when you click deeper:

Click for more detail, reactions layer.

Here’s a closer look:

A closer look.

Pretty neat, right?

Of course, this is just the beginning of our design and user experience experiments as it relates to reactions. Part of where we want to start is to assume nothing about current and more popular examples (e.g. Facebook, Twitter, etc.) and build something that’s powerful, relevant, and hyper-useful to our own users and community.

It’s worth the effort and investment because, as I’ve already stated, these things can literally impact not only someone’s day but their very lives. Digital reactions – who would have thought?