Similarly, social proof is a way of life for humans, and how we interact with others in doing or liking something appeals in the world of design and UX. Humans tend to move in groups or band together to help one another in situations beyond their control or assist those in need.
Surprisingly, this is how individuals on the internet experiment with new products/services. You check out that new meal delivery service after hearing from your colleagues that they received a significant discount on their first orders. This urge comes from our natural desire to act "properly" in most situations, whether we're making a purchase, deciding where to eat, deciding where we should go, what we say, who we say it to, and so on.
In user experience design, social proof is utilized for two reasons:
- To provide credibility: We are more likely to believe a source is valuable or credible if other others find it useful or credible.
- To encourage adoption or acceptance: Subscribers to a Facebook page or Twitter feed might inspire others to do the same. Seeing a large number of individuals doing something is a psychological cue for people to do the same thing.
Here are two major instances of online social proof that you encounter practically every day and that guide certain decisions we make on the internet with the app or website, and purchasing decisions we make ;
- Subscribers/followers: Here is a newsletter subscription form that shows how many subscribers consume the content, providing credibility to anyone considering providing their e-mail address to the organization to receive relevant information in their inbox. The same is true for the number of followers on social media platforms such as Twitter and Instagram. Most people are more likely to follow a new account after seeing a large number of people who are already following it and the activity going on because something positive is occurring here for the account to have some success.
2. Testimonials: People are wired to believe in one another. That is one of the main reasons why testimonials are such a good example of social proof, and many top organizations now prominently display testimonials on their home pages. Another option would be to display a list of former clients or companies with whom they have worked.
The persuasive power of social proof is undeniable. Designers, on the other hand, must examine the consequences. The major risk of relying on social proof is the notion that there are too few individuals who approve of the piece of content, service, or product.