So about a year ago, I was bragging about the Chinese super app WeChat with my friends, such as calling Uber, splitting bills, especially a feature, you can undo your sent message.
You know what, one of my friend, Ben gave me a disgruntled look, “ Damn bro, you Chinese are fake!”
“Oh shut up, don’t judge what you don’t understand.” I was a little bit mad actually. What’s wrong with the “undo” feature? It’s very convenient!
There are just too many accidents because of typos…
What if there are “undo” feature in iMessage/ Messengers?
Well… A lot of social apps in U.S. do not support the “redo” feature. One possible explanation could be that those app are made to replace the traditional text, and texting does not have “undo” feature itself. Users have gotten used to that… Or a lot of people are just so real, like my boi Ben.
Well, several months later, Ben was not that confident any more. The reason is that WhatsApp added the ability to “unsend” messages
Once this feature came out, numerous users were so cheered up! The “unsend” feature finally came!
Besides the “undo” feature, there is one more thing that makes Wechat and other Chinese social media apps different. That is the “read receipt”.
Social media apps such as WhatsApp, iMessage, Line with almost 2 billion users in total have this feature.
What read receipt means is that if you send a message to another, the system will tell you if that person read your message. For example, people using apple devices will have this read receipt when they use iMessage.
Line, a social media app that is favored in Japan, Korean as well as Hong Kong also have this feature.
In WhatsApp, messages with two blue arrows mean they are read by the receivers.
This feature is a bug.
1. Your girlfriend has one more reason to start a fight.
- You have to reply the message form your boss if you “accidentally” open up the conversation box, because your boss knows you have read it.
Thank god WeChat does not have this feature. According to their official website, it says,” we want to provide users with a relaxing and free environment for communication.
The team actually discussed this problem for a couple of days, and finally deicide not to make this read receipt feature.
The leading product manager Xiaolong Zhao later responded with the statement, “we need to give users a choice to lie.”
As one of the best product manager, I have to say he managed to sense the users needs that are subtle and even don’t have a chance to speak out.
We can also say that switching the way of thinking and finding the most suitable way for users are very important for product management.
Another social media app that was defeated by WeChat is an opposite example. MiLiao is the one who supported “read receipt”
However, are there any successful social media apps that support “read receipt”?
Yes. There is one called “Momo“
Are they fools?
No, there is an important concept – User scenario. User scenario has to be taken into account when we are doing product design.
For example, there is difference between you go to swimming pool or go to Hawaiian beach to swim. Your needs are different under different scenarios.
Even though one user uses both WeChat and MoMo for chatting, yet the usage scenarios are quite different.
The usage for WeChat is more like facebook, are normal communications among friends. Momo, however, has its usage scenario with strong sexual implication.
It is good for Momo to have read receipts, because the awkwardness in this case are less obvious among strangers. Unlike conversations between friends, one would not care that much for the tardiness of getting response from strangers.
For example, if you asked someone to fund your project and the person ignored you, you wouldn’t be heartbroken.
Moreover, “read receipt” can accelerate your progress, saving your time as well. For example, if you see a girl who has no response after reading your message, you will have a better knowledge of whether you should switching targets.
The management team knows users hate this feature. Therefore they came up with member service. Only members can sneakily check others messages without read receipt.
I have to mention another social media app by Alibaba. It’s called Dingding.
Dingding is worse. It will tell you specifically in a group who read the message and who did not.
In fact, Dingding did this in purpose, because its usage scenario is work.
Although read receipt somewhat causes anxiety, it will improve work efficiency for responding messages. A boss can quickly know the progress of employees’ message reading, getting better knowledge of assigning work. Eventually, Dingding improves work efficiency in the team.
Do you think people in U.S. have anxiety of read receipt? The answer is Yes.
However, unlike in China the answer is absolutely no. Both voices stood out. There are pros such as transparency, lowering the cost of communication, and respect on both sides.
Yet the no.1 answer on Reddit is a dude giving out a simple answer on having read receipts on.
“I have it on because I’m real AF”
To be honest, “be real, be yourself” is a significant part of American culture.
I guess a “real” person would just say “it’s midnight!” to his/her boss rather than leaving it hanging after reading another work message.
Rochester Institute of Technology specifically did research on people with various background.
First, note that there are individualism and collectivism, and they are quite different.
On the one hand, Individualism identifies independence from groups. The “I” predominates and the pursuit of self-interest is encouraged. On the other hand, collectivism has identification with a group. The “we” predominates and submission to group norms and interests is expected.
From the chart above, we can see, developed countries like US, Canada, Australia and Eastern Europe are mostly like to be individualistic, meaning not caring others’ opinion. Be real, be yourself. Don’t judge others easily. Instead, eastern countries including China are more likely to be collectivistic. Besides China, middle east countries are also likely to be collectivistic with religious factors. The author Lujayn has a chart comparing U.S and Middle East countries with three chatting scenarios: close friends, sexual partners and “distant acquaintances”
We can see that just like WeChat, in the category of “distant acquaintances”, the percentage of accepting read receipt for Americans are significantly higher. A possible correlated conclusion would be a person with individualism favors read receipt.
Yet you can’t make everyone happy. Some like it, some dislike it. iMessage is universal product. How to deal with this situation? The answer is easy, let users choose their preference. One of the main reason would be supporting the ideal of globalization, meaning making improvement for worldwide users, fulfilling users’ needs.
- Good product finds people’s characteristics, some could be very subtle, like WeChat.
- The usage scenario determines some features, which has to be taken into account while doing product design, such as Momo and Dingding.
- While designing a product that covers users with multiple cultural background, the product has to be flexible in order to fulfill different needs.