Dan Grover recently moved from San Francisco to Guangzhou and became a product manager on WeChat, a popular messaging app in China. In an extensive blog post he shares some insights into Chinese mobile app UI trends and how they differ from the US and Europe. There are many interesting observations in his post, such as a trend towards walled gardens and portals in China, whereas in the west there’s a trend towards app unbundling. Benedict Evans also wrote about these two contrasting trends back in August.
One of the most interesting little tidbits for me, however, came as part of the description of WeChat’s Moments feature, which provides a news feed, but in subtly different ways than we’re used to from Facebook:
When you like or comment on a friend’s post, only they and any mutual friends can see it – not all of both parties’ friends, as on Facebook. This means that only the author of a post has an accurate idea how many people liked or commented on their post. This lowers’ users inhibitions in engaging with their friends’ posts.
This makes so much more sense to me than how Facebook’s news feed works right now. On Facebook, the reach and visibility of my actions is beyond my grasp and control. In that sense, interacting with Facebook feels like an act of performance in front of an unknown audience to me, and for that reason I refrain from doing so at all. By restoring a measure of privacy in Facebook interactions, it could become a much more intimate and useful communications tool. Then again, judging by the contents of my news feed, I’m pretty sure that Facebook is much more interested in being a media publishing company than a communications service provider.