At the intersection of social sciences and design

Prismatic for Web

Prismatic Web

We learned a ton from preview and iOS. Wanted to iterate quickly on web. Had multiple versions we wanted to consolidate. old system was keeping us trapped. A lot of this process is covered in the list vs. grid post which I contributed to, but here will also touch on aspects that aren’t covered in detail on post.

In short, there were a number of benefits to going to a list view. Hacked together a list view to see if the use of metrics would be at least commensurate with what we saw before we did a complete redesign. Incrementally rolled it out and learn from it. Once we saw this is something we could use well, decided to go ahead and test the feeds next to each other.

We had new feeds we developed as a result of hack day work. This inspired a design that we wanted to test with users. A post on mechanical turk that I worked on with Gina Assaf details the different steps we went through. Always looking for creative ways to use mechanical turk to get interesting information.


Talked some about ideas about navigation from Hack week project. One of the core themes is how do we make things accessible to people, and also understand what would be most interesting so we could prioritize. Wow can we make some of the feeds more accessible and discern interest in them and make sure to build scalable system? We had a couple top level items already, and some we had discussed for a while that we wanted to bring back such as global and social feed.

Iterative approach. How can we group items so it isn't overwhelming? A couple options: lay it out yourself, card sorting study.

[slides from card sorting]

[different nav options we looked at]

Also had to think about how this nav would work across different platforms in the simplest way possible. Worked on this with Mikael Keussen.

Explains + Topic tags

The current explains we had, “shared in” was confusing … how to decouple them and make them more accessible? Something we liked about the old web was how easy it was to navigate to the topic feed and also discover new ones to add through content in your feed.

Something that people didn't understand is if people followed. We tried a couple things. 

[show image of old web/iphone with different colors]

[show image of new green and grey colors]. Found that people thought one was deactivated, which is the opposite of what we wanted.

Social and expandable explain system

At their essence, explains are supposed to give you a sense for why you're seeing something. Prismatic collects so much interesting data, want to give you more profound reasons that may be more persuasive in getting you to understand why something is there. Started looking at different elements of persuasion based on Cialdini's principles: scarcity, social proof, likeability, etc. Also looked into other factors that lead people to share, such as controversy or emotion.

[show different options we played around with]

Goal was to build an expandable explain system -> generated many different options. We're starting off with a subset now that we can learn from and understand how influential they are for not only everyone in general, but individuals in the future. Sort of a riff of the research I did for my Masters thesis.