From Boxes and Arrows: Designing for Strong, Weak and Temporary ties

Our social web tools must start to understand the strength of ties, that we have stronger relationships with some people than with others. And with this knowledge they need to adapt.

There are three kinds of relationship ties:

  • Strong ties: People we care deeply about.
  • Weak ties: People we are loosely connected to, like friends of friends.
  • Temporary ties: People we don’t know, and interact with temporarily.

A great Boxes and Arrows article on the need design social apps to reflect the different needs of strong, weak and temporary relationship ties.

The focus here is on public Web applications, so I suspect some minor refinements might be needs if you were building an application being used within an organisation or some other network, where the trust dynamics are different. For example, inside an organisation roles and position in the hierarchy provides an additional trust structure to use (although bear in mind, it does not necessarily embody social capital based trust).

At some point this would probably also be a good model to add to the Project 8 materials, to provide more depth to the user experience principles we put forward.