Notfication design

February 10, 2021

A piece of work landed on my desk this week that is going to require us to design the rules and system that will define how information moves from the business to a users logged in account. We're talking about a logged in inbox, alerts, reminders and notifications.

Today, the product has all of these built in. They were 'out-of-the-box' features that were easy to say yes to at the time, but now represent a time bomb for users and the business.

If you're old enough to remember when you get an email every time someone tagged you in a photo on Facebook, you will know what we're trying to avoid.

I've never designed something like this for a system so complex, but my first thoughts on how to classify push information are:

• Does the thing require a user action? Y/N?
• Is the thing specific for the user or for all users?
• Do they need to be told about it or can we archive it for them?
• Can we group similar notifications?
• How do we define what is an 'alert' vs. 'mail' vs. 'reminder'?
• How can we design this so that the user doesn't feel overwhelmed?

All of this reminds me of an image that appeared on Twitter in 2017 that shows how Slack decided to send you a notification or not. A reminder, that almost everything is more complicated that we think.