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Facebook Reactions: the path from conception to release

Geoff Teehan shares the story of how Facebook developed Reactions!

Facebook Reactions from FastCompany Design

The challenge

We have spent a lot of time refining the Like, Comment, Share buttons so that it’s easy to use and understand. It is a surface that is interacted with a lot, so any change will affect the understandability and usability of millions of people’s actions. We needed to thoughtfully curate any change so it felt like a natural evolution, taking care not to feel abrupt or disrupt everyone on our platform.
– Geoff Teehan (

Highlight #1 Principles

I really like that they had key principles for the two challenge tracks they were working on.

Defining the Reactions

  1. Reactions should be universally understood. Reactions should be understood globally, so more people can connect and communicate together.
  2. Reactions should be widely used and expressive. Reactions should allow people to give feedback in more expressive ways that better align with the varied ways we react to things in real life. (source)

Designing the System of interaction and presentation

  1. Reactions should be an extension of the Like button. Like, Comment, and Share are ubiquitous to Facebook, and adding a fourth option at this point would introduce more complexity.
  2. Reactions should not make existing behavior more difficult. It was important that we introduced this feature responsibly, in a way that didn’t disrupt the way a billion people already used the product. In other words, we wanted to retain the simplicity and ease of Liking — when you tap on the Like button, you are "liking" the post. (source)

Highlight #2 Sources of data

One year of research using an interesting set of sources:

  • Top Stickers
  • Most used search terms for Stickers
  • Top short comments

These sources provided some excellent data that permitted the design team gain understanding of the intent and behaviour of millions of users world-wide. This is a really interesting way to research what people are trying to express on their platform.

Highlight #3 Prototypes

I love all of the prototyping and iteration of the interaction. Some look like they could have been acceptable but not award-winning. I would have loved to have been involved in that usability testing!!

Now, I recommend that you go read the original article on

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