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Buddy List

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The user wants a distinct list of people they know (friends, coworkers, family) to communicate with in real-time.

Use When

Use this pattern when offering just in time communications, like instant messaging.


The buddy list is a list of people a user wants to keep track of.

  • Indicate which users are currently online (see Presence or OPI).
  • Indicate which users are offline.
  • Indicate when a user may be busy and not taking messages but is still online.
  • Consider indicating when a user is idle, which often indicates that the user is not at the computer or is engaged in another task.
  • Allow users to organize their buddies into meaningful groupings, like friends, family, golf buddies, work peeps, etc.
  • Consider allowing the creation of on-the-fly group chats through the selection of multiple people in a buddy list.
  • Consider storing messages sent to a buddy for later retrieval, if the message is sent when they are no longer online.


Real time communications and the buddy list to support them, add an immediate and real-life component to what are often asynchronous experiences online.

Related Patterns

Adding Friends

As Seen On