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Adding Friends

From Social Patterns

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A user has found people she knows on a social site and wants to add them to her circle of connections.


Use When

  • Use when user connections are a core part of the site’s experience.
  • Use when relationships will be confirmed providing a two-way reciprocal relationship.
  • Use when allowing one user to follow another participant without reciprocity.
  • Use when ignoring a connection request is allowed.


Once a user has found people they care about (see Finding People) on your site. There should be an easy way to add these people as connections.

Provide a clear link (button or text/icon combination) call to action to Add this person as a friend.

Once the person has been added as a friend, clearly indicate to the user that this person is now a friend.

Confirming Friendship / Two way

Requiring two-way relationships encourages a network that more closely resembles real world relationships.

Facebook shows the first confirmation screen, after selecting “Add to Friends”, alerting the user that the recipient of the request will have to confirm the relationship.

Facebook shows a confirmation that the Add request has been sent and must be approved.

Clearly indicate when selecting “add as a friend” that the relationship must be confirmed by the other party before it will exist or be recognized on the site.

Likewise, alert users when a connection request is being made.

Facebook indicates friend requests in a “Requests” module on a user’s personal dashboard.

Linked In alerts users to invitations to connect in the Inbox.

Twitter has both public and private status streams. If the stream is private, it effectively is a two-way reciprocal type of connection and must be approved by the person who is the recipient of the request.

One-Way Following

An alternative to reciprocal relationships is the one-way connection. This type of connection is best used when the content is more important than a personal relationship. This is essentially a subscription to the person’s activities and contributions within the system.

Twitter has a simple large “Follow” button associated with the identity of the person to follow.

Flickr uses the terminology “Contact” when adding a person to your network. This is a one-way relationship.

Consider labelling the default action in a way that doesn’t imply an intimate or real life relationship, like “friends” or “family”. Instead use terminology like “Contacts”, “Fan” or “Follow”.


flickr sends a notice every time some is added as a connection and again when the connection is reciprocated.

When a connection is made, alert the connected person that a connection has been made.

If two parties connect to each other – in a mutual one-way connection – acknowledge the connection.

Ignore Me

Allow users to ignore connection requests.

Clearly indicate what the consequences of “Ignore” will be otherwise the outcome will be a collection of neglected connection requests living in some sort of perpetual purgatory. Many people won’t actively Ignore someone because it isn’t clear what will happen if they select Ignore. They fear insulting the person who is making the request even though this isn’t a person they would consider connecting with.

Facebook offers Ignore as an equal option to Confirm but doesn’t tell you what happens if you click the button.

Once the Ignore button is clicked, a confirmation of that action is presented but it still doesn’t say what happens with that action.

Facebook’s UI offers some good options, but they fall short on setting expectations for the user for Ignore and Block actions. Does the requestor get a message that they are being ignored? If the requestor isn’t notified, then the action is the same as no action. Does Ignore block this person from requesting a connection again? Or is that what happens with the Block link?


Allowing users to connect to each other encourages conversations and sharing amongst networks of people resulting in viral growth of the site.

People want to do things with their friends or with others who have similar interests, allowing them to connect strengthens these ties.

Related Patterns

Find People

As Seen On