A Fluding Heart

This post is in response to a tweet I posted about the iPhone App Flud that had two subsequent replies from Flud Support and Bobby Ghoshal, founder of Flud News. I proposed the idea that the button to flud an article in Flud should be more unique and brand oriented than a heart. It was a fleeting question in my mind, but getting responses from two people from Flud made me go back and think about it more. It made me ask myself, "Why did that heart stick out to me so strongly as not being the best possible option for an icon to represent the "flud" action?" This blog post is purely my own opinion of how the visuals of fluding could be stronger. The heart icon is completely valid and works well, and like Ghoshal said, there is a reason they chose the heart. I am curious as to the reason why they went with the heart. If anybody from the Flud community reads this I would be interested in a comment added to this blog about your reasoning.

I have NPR, CNN, BBC, HuffPost, Flipboard, and Flud on my iphone for news consumption. The first four apps are essentially your basic news apps. They give the user access to the news they are reporting about and ways to share it. Overall however, that's about it, no other real layer of interaction. Flipboard is nice because I choose what news is given to me. I get news about design, fashion, apps, etc, because that's what I chose. The tailorability of the app is quite nice. Flud gives me this tailorability, but with a social layer added on top of it.

In the research phase for my MX project this past semester, i came across the idea of the "information bubble." In that, websites, apps, search engines, etc, can all get so customized that the user is missing huge areas of information because the system deems it "unworthy" to the user. This is set through anything from personal settings to the analysis of past searches. The systems analyze all of the data collected by and about the user and creates an experience unique only to them. Part of the reason I like Flud so much is because it has an answer to the information bubble hinderance.

Flud initially only gives me the news and information I chose to receive, then opens it up to what other users I'm following are reading. I can read the articles provided and then "flud" them to my friends and followers if I feel it is worthy to share and have other people read. Once I started following other users, a "flud" of articles is created from everything the people I follow have fluded. This is where the information bubble starts to break down. I'm readily given other content outside of my tailored experience that opens my mind up to other topics and points of views that I may not have known I liked or was interested in.

The term/action "to flud" is uniquely theirs, and helps set them apart from other apps. I enjoy the term "flud" because it creates a strong, all encompassing image in my mind. When land physically floods, water goes everywhere. When I flud an article, I know that all of my followers will see it in their flud curated by the people they follow. I'm saying that this article is important enough to me that I want everyone I know to know about it, and read it. This is the part of Flud that sets it apart from other news services, the strong emphasis of sharing content so easily and readily to everyone. Though it's such a core part of Flud, I feel that the heart icon of "fluding" is too generic.

The "button" I tap to flud an article is a heart, but is that a strong enough icon to use? I argue no, it is not. The heart icon is employed on Tumblr(Instagram, too) to love/like things. It says, I like this post enough to save it, but not enough to fully reblog it to my blog. It's a lower, less important way of denoting content that I like. It works more like a personal catalog of saved items for me. This "like" feature shows up in pretty much every other social network. Facebook's thumbs up "like" and Twitter and Flickr's favorite stars. All of these platforms use these means to denote a lower level sharing/saving. Flud uses the heart as top level sharing, but the fact that all of these other platforms are saving the heart/star/thumb icons for a lower level, makes the heart icon in the Flud app less meaningful. The action that I'm doing when I tap on the heart in Flud isn't "liking", "loving", or "hearting" it, I'm "fluding" it. I argue that Flud needs a more unique and ownable icon for their action of "fluding". Because the action "to flud" is so strong and powerful, not to mention so important to the entire app, it needs a strong icon to support it visually. It should be something that isn't directly affected/influenced by other platforms and ideals like the heart. It should be an icon that users know as the "flud button" that will always flud content and articles to their followers, instead of a heart with a speech bubble above it saying "flud your followers".

But what do I think the icon should be instead? I'm not sure entirely. Initially I felt using the really nice "U" shape in their logo could be a nice alternative to the heart. They're already bringing attention to it in their logo, and the shape itself also looks like a basket/bucket of sorts. The shape that the "U" is on in their app icon looks very drawer-esque, as well. Both feel container-like to me. However, should the icon be so literal or container feeling? Not necessarily. If you go in more of the literal route, the container would have to stay very iconic like simply using the "U" itself. But I don't necessarily think a container is completely the right image either. The articles I flud are saved in my account, yes, but I flud the articles first and foremost so other people can see them. It's less about the saving, and more about the sharing, the fluding. In the mocked-up images above, the "U" seems to fit better between the facebook and twitter icons. The icon to flud becomes its own icon, not only letting the use know what they're about to do, but also reiterate the logo, or part of it.

I love what Flud is and what it's doing. The overall design of the app is top level work, highly crafted and finessed. The color is a smart choice, and works nicely to create an app-specific color, one that people come to associate Flud with if done right. The concept of Flud is awesome and I definitely plan to continue using it as one of my primary news sources on my phone. I can hope to encourage more of my friends with iPhones to download and use it as well. I enjoy knowing what others are reading and interested in, and Flud does a nice job of that.

This is little more than my thought process on something that could be seen as so trivial. But for an app that focuses so strongly on the idea of sharing, or here known as fluding, this is rather important. Creating a strong visual language for the action of fluding could quite possibly help visually strengthen the app even more than it already is. Helping solidify itself as a top-notch app with a huge following.