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Village or City

The Design Problem

First, you have to think about who you’re building for and what kind of interactions they’ll have with others. If it’s more like a village, you’ll have close connections with everyone you talk to. Think of a texting app, or an invite-only chat room. If it’s more like a city (think Twitter), your users will have more interactions with strangers.

Some users will want to be in a village in certain contexts; but some communities may want to feel more like cities. The problem then is how do we give users clear and ample choice in what kind of community they are entering or creating?

The Design Solution

Give users and moderators clear controls on how to grow their communities. Utilize interface elements like social radius slider and content curators to give fine-grained control over social feeds.

Communities that are invite-only will feel more like villages. The more controls you create around who is allowed to issue invites (e.g., only moderators/admins or everyone) will further restrict community growth.


  • Biton
  • Mastodon

Why Choose Village or City?

When you are building an application that relies heavily on social interaction.

Best Practice: How to Implement Village or City

  • Guidelines and parameters regarding community size and interactive elements must be communicated clearly.

  • Make sure that the artifical retrictrions and parameters are visible so that people with the same values can find each other in the same villages or cities.

Potential Problems with Village or City

It can cause more cognitive load to have more choices in moderation, community interaction, and growth. Create default settings or an in depth onboarding flow that helps moderators and users understand what the implications are for community openness, public visibility, and invitation rules.

The Take-Away

Users will feel more grounded and active on your platform when community boundaries are clear and aligned with what they are looking for.

References & Where to Learn More