I've constructed an iPhone-app where the users can "friend" each other and it works fine.

The reason that I started this thread is to discuss whenever its a better/more modern approach to let users follow each other instead (Instagram, Twitter) rather the "traditional" way (Facebook before the possibility of following people).

Are there any advantages of using the "following" model?

Why and when to go with the "friend" model?

Of course it has a lot to do with what kind of community the structure should be inside, but for my project that's about exercising and workouts i think that I might have to toss the "friend" model and go with the following-method. In my case, people might want to show their workouts to people that they don't even know.

What do you all think?

1 Answer 1


Friend or Follow is a serious design choice where you need to look at your app objective to see what task the app is supposed to do. It is possible to use friend only, follow only or both. Which design to implement depends on strategy of the app.

Friend usually need to be accepted by both parties to be acknowledged. It’s expected to be more private and under each users control. This is very different from the strategy of Follow, where you are expected to follow anyone you like. You can follow J LO; see what breakfast she eats if she prefer to share it publicly. However, unless you are classmates from school to J LO, you are unlikely to get her approval to be her friend digitally.

Facebook have implemented both friend and follow, which probably is the one that users understand more easily. Google + on the other hand lets you share to your supposed friends even if they aren’t, and they can’t see your shares unless they follow you back. Google + would probably be better categorized as dual-follow and not friends.

It really depends on your strategy, and your target audience expectations of the app.

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  • As a sidenote, I find it very odd that Deviant Art basically has both systems; you have to "watch" to get updates, but there's a checkbox for "friend". I find it annoying that the box is prepopulated because, at least as a passive user, I'm basically never friends with the artist.
    – Ben Brocka
    Jul 9, 2014 at 13:12
  • @BenBrocka I never seen that "option" before. Would be nice to hear there reasoning behind that logic... Jul 9, 2014 at 13:14
  • I honestly don't know what it does on Deviant Art, I assume it's just a categorization for your sake.
    – Ben Brocka
    Jul 9, 2014 at 13:32
  • Which method is preferred today, are there any statistics in which method is the most appreciated way to go? Are there any "guidelines" when it's preferred to use "friend" above "follow"? E.g my "project" is about working out, therefor I thought it would be nice to have a "Friend"-layout, since people are probably only caring about their friends workouts. But now, when "rather famoused" people are signing up, their "blog-followers" has to become friend with them, and it's here Im confused. Should I abandoned the current "friend"-method, and merge to the "follow-unfollow"-method instead?
    – Oakleaf
    Jul 9, 2014 at 20:55
  • 1
    Sidenote: Is it more likely (Do you think) that if people can follow whomever they want, that the users actually will "accept" or "get" the concept of the project even more. Is it a barrier to force users to become friends in order to let them view inspiring/interesting images of their "idols"?
    – Oakleaf
    Jul 9, 2014 at 20:56

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