When lots of social media sharing buttons are listed it tends to look like garbage (see below). However, all the buttons and icons are (kind of?) easy to associate with the respective sites. I wish they'd all agree on the counter being on the left or right side - but that's a whole other topic.

I'm wondering if anyone has any experience or statistics switching to something custom. Did it affect the amount of interaction negatively? I feel as though people could look for that Facebook blue or the multi-colored strip at the top of the Google +1 option.


  • I believe that Google don't even allow their +1 button to be styled, one could make an assumption that this could be because they want to control the look of it to keep it from being misused. Perhaps they think alternative images may be used fraudulently?
    – JonW
    Feb 7, 2012 at 17:09
  • @JonW can you give me a link to that,I was trying to pose an argument to a similar question to my design team about them making fancy alternative icons for facebook and google plus
    – Mervin
    Feb 8, 2012 at 0:39
  • 1
    @MFrank2012 Google +1 button policy link: google.com/webmasters/+1/button/policy.html "Publishers may not alter or obfuscate a Google+ Button"... "the Publisher must use only the official Google-provided icon or a plain text and link combination..."
    – JonW
    Feb 8, 2012 at 8:47
  • That's a great initiative by Google. But I doubt it will prevent designers around the world from restyling them to "look better" anyway.
    – Rahul
    Feb 9, 2012 at 0:05

3 Answers 3


I've actually experimented with this and your intuition is correct (at least in my experience). While all the social buttons can start to look cluttered, people understand and recognize them right off the bat. I attempted to design a custom solution that looked a little nicer, but in the end, people didn't interact with them as much.

As designers I think it's one of those "itches" best left unscratched... in the end it's a matter of finding what works best for the user.. something often forgotten by us UI people.


Honestly, my preference would be to treat this as a policy issue. Answer the question of what communities do I plan to actively participate in, and integrate those experiences into my content.

If I don't care about that site, I shouldn't care if my users or readers can quickly promote my content there. There are always manual methods for linking or promoting content in the social platform of my choice. If people love your stuff enough they will put a tiny bit of effort into talking about you.


I can't give you an empirical answer but from my own experience, I never click on buttons that look 'fake' as they make me think of pop-unders and spam. My favourite is roll-over official buttons that aren't live until clicked (requiring one click to activate the counter, another to actually click-through) for user-privacy.

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