How we designed Reactions on Zubble

Welcome to the first Zubble Insider!

Zubble Insider is the blog series where I (Tom, co-founder of Zubble) will break down certain decisions that the Zubble team have made in order to:

  • Reflect (always comes in handy!)
  • Hopefully provide a bit of value to you!

This article is all about Zubble Reactions.

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What are Zubble Reactions?

When a user posts on Zubble, their followers and anyone who sees that post on the app can ‘react’ to it. Reacting to a post on Zubble is similar to ‘liking’ a post on Facebook or Instagram. However, instead of a traditional ‘like’, Zubble users are presented with 3 emojis. These emojis are:

👏 Clap

😍 Love

🔥 Fire

A Zubble user can react to each post up to 20 times by tapping any of the 3 emojis. How many times a user reacts/taps and the emojis they tap depends solely on how a post makes them feel.

The user is in control and can choose to communicate exactly how much they like a Zubble post.

Now that you’ve got a quick background on Zubble Reactions, I’ll break down the process that led to the design of this feature.


The goals behind designing Zubble Reactions are simple:

  1. Reward the producer with meaningful social currency

  2. Enable consumers to express their reaction whilst highlighting the best posts

  3. Collect insightful data

It felt unnatural to design a feedback mechanism which involved a one-size-fits-all icon with a single-tap whilst users are listening to music. While it does tell the producer if you are a fan of their post, the traditional ‘like’ is quite limited in it’s meaning and prohibits expression.

‘Did that person love my post? Did they just think it was ‘meh’? Did they like out of habit as they were scrolling down?’

Music fills people with a range of emotions and energy. The traditional ‘like’ wasn’t going to reflect how people feel when they listen to music.

Our mission is to connect the world’s music community, and to achieve that, we must connect music fans on a deeper level.

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A lot of thought went into how to communicate, to both producers and other users, how a post was being received by the Zubble community. After lengthy discussions within the team and community, we decided to use emojis.

Emojis are one of the most popular tools to instantly communicate feelings with friends. Instead of a standard ‘like’ icon, emojis offer a range of immediately recognisable emotions. Since music is a catalyst for such emotions, we felt that emojis could perfectly represent how users are reacting to posts.

The challenge now was, out of all the emojis available, which 3 emojis would represent Zubble users’ reactions?

The team went back to speaking with users and investigated which emojis they were using the most in their daily life and what certain emojis meant to them.

Further to this, it was really important that the chosen emojis created insightful data which would:

  • Help Zubble to learn and improve the product
  • Be useful to other companies/individuals

As a lot of social currency will be exchanged between producers and consumers on Zubble. This opens the opportunity to capture value from each interaction.

It was important to understand what type of data would be most useful, both for Zubble and others too. After more research and speaking with a few people from within the music industry, it was concluded that the industry wouldn’t necessarily be as interested in data that highlights what’s ‘bad’, but instead, how ‘good’ a track is in order to allow them the opportunity to further capitalise on that track.

Our conversations with producers and several influencers confirmed that they are less interested in receiving purely negative ratings.

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Therefore, it became obvious that the emojis we choose had to vary in intensity whilst offering a degree of good. The first emoji has to represent ‘good’, the second is ‘great’ and the third signify ‘amazing’.

This would ensure that producers are receiving the social currency that they’re motivated by and the subsequent data collected is valuable to Zubble and beyond.

Now that we had this knowledge, thought was given to the meaning of an array of emojis and the intensity that they represent. I have never looked at so many emojis for so long. Everything looked pixelated for a few hours after that task.

Another consideration was if certain emojis were genre-specific and less likely to be used by other genre communities. We were aware that every genre community on Zubble had to be accommodated for by the 3 emojis reactions.

Finally, a shortlist with varied emoji combinations was created and sent to different types of users including artists and music influencers. As shown above, the clear winner was….


Feedback from the Zubble community stated that this emoji combination gave a nice hierarchy of ‘like’ intensity and that they were emojis people were using very frequently. Everyone knew the meaning of each emoji, giving the producer a much clearer indication of how their followers are receiving their posts.

The emojis are already being used as influencers mentioned that their fans are already posting them on their Instagram photos.

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So we have our 3 emojis.

The next step was to decide how many times users can react.

We decided that users can react up to 20 times per post.

There are several reasons for this.

  1. We want to give producers as much social currency as possible by capitalising on the energy transferred when people listen to music they like. The more meaningful social currency a producer receives, the higher likelihood of repeatedly encouraging the creation of more posts, especially in the early days of Zubble.
  2. A higher amount of social currency to spend per post allows consumers to accurately express themselves, whilst giving producers insight into how their posts are being received.
  3. Higher reaction counts will act as behaviour cues, subtly encouraging other users to engage with the post and react too. Both of these factors help to maximise the repeatability of the core interaction.
  4. Allowing users to spend a maximum of 20 reactions across 3 emojis removes the binary ‘all-in’ or ‘all-out’ approach to liking posts. Whilst you may be able to quickly assess the value that a photo or 140/280 character Tweet which are digested very quickly, music is consumed at a different pace and taps (pun not intended) into different emotions. We want users to have the control and express their reaction to Zubble posts in their own way.

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That’s Zubble Reactions! They’ll be put into the wild when Version 2 is released in December 2017.

I hope you enjoyed reading more about the thought processes behind the feature.

Agree? Disagree?

Let me know at!


Co-founder of Zubble

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