I'm building a social network that triggers some notifications to the user regarding friends' comments, similar to Facebook notifications.

The notification simply serves as an alert, meaning that it's used to alert of something, not waiting for an answer of the user behalf.

Does this strategy make sense regarding a good UX?

  1. Simply display unread notifications in the list that the user sees.
    Indeed, if he clicks on one to view the associated content, I see no benefit for the notification to remain on the list.
  2. When a user clicks on a notification, it is flagged as read and the counter of "Unread notifications" decrements by 1. Indeed, I think about displaying a "counter of Unread rather than counter of New".
  3. A user can click on a button saying: "Mark all as read". This would clear the counter and empty the whole notifications list.

1 Answer 1


I'm currently working through a set of very similar problems so I've been giving this topic a lot of thought.

1) I see 0 benefit in displaying a list of "Read" notifications when notifying the user of new activity/events is the intent here. I'd focus solely on "Unread" notifications and have a control that can let the user access older "Read" notifications if they're interested in this data. For recently read notifications, consider leaving them on the list for a period of time, but indicating that they've been read.

2) Since you're notifying the user of new events, this is the more sensible option. It's also very helpful to know how many items I have remaining to go through.

One thing you'll find very helpful if you use Gmail is the "Mark all as read" feature. It's very useful to be able to clear out a large list of information particularly if it's the type of activity that builds up quickly. Another reason to consider this feature is if the events aren't "mission critical". For instance, Knowing that I have 12 Unread email messages is important. It's equally important that you notify me of how many I have remaining to read. Knowing that 16 people shared my blog post is great, but it probably doesn't make sense to force me to review each one of those activities before the counter drops to 0. If I read that I had 16 shares, thats probably enough engagement for the counter to drop to 0.

3) This is also very useful.

Strategically mixing options 2 and 3 could make for a very useful notifications system. But ultimately the requirements should be data driven.

The things to think about: - What type of information am I notifying the user about? - Is this information Mission critical, or Business critical? - If neither, how important is this information to the user? - What is the frequency of event notifications? - If its a large amount of events, can it be distilled or summarized without losing its essential meaning?

I'd also avoid option 1. :)

  • 1
    I made a typo in my post: "Simply display read notifications in the list that the user sees." => Simply display unread notifications in the list that the user sees.
    – Mik378
    Jul 13, 2014 at 23:32

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