Constraints are a great way to boost the uniqueness of experience and the creativity of the user. Not only SMS messages’ 160-character limit does it; so does Twitter (with its tweet limitations), Instagram (with square photos) or Snapchat. I’m going to cover more on this topic in the separate story.
Thinking of constraints, I came up with a few ideas for text messaging, that force users to behave differently than they became accustomed, which brings them an exceptional experience.
1. Give more of yourself
We get used to really short messages. Sometimes, they serve their purpose well; they are good when we are in a hurry or we want just to confirm something. Unfortunately, sometimes we expect to receive something more than just cold “OK”, we need an explanation, a bit of richer communication — not rarely more emotional.
The first idea seems to be straightforward — it is an inverted constraint of SMS:
Your messages should be at least 160 characters long.
With such rule, we would be forced to write longer messages, devote more time and attention to someone.
Isn’t it frustrating, when you try to answer your friend’s question and in the meantime he or she asks 5 more questions and starts 3 more threads? Isn’t it annoying? Wouldn’t it be nice to mute another person till you finish your message?
This idea is very simple and works like walkie-talkie:
You can’t type while your friend is typing. And vice-versa.
That would end chaotic conversations and interruptions.
3. Calm down
Emotions are good if managed properly. In intense conversations, they may cause a destructive and immediate outburst. Sometimes it’s good to take a few deep breaths before replying.
The rule for this idea would be:
You can’t reply to the message in 15 minutes since reading it.
That would give you enough time to calm down, think twice and respond wisely.
4. Time capsule
Waiting for Christmas gifts is a very unique experience; even waiting for a delivery of your new Apple Watch Series 4 is exciting. What if we can make our friends wait for our messages?
This idea brings an additional feature to any message:
You can read the message only after the delivery date (set by sender).
Your friend would know something is coming but will have to wait to discover what it is.
5. Walk your words
We probably spend more time on social media than on walking during a day. What if we bind these two activities?
Walk more to write more. 1 step walked equals 1 character you can send.
In this case, bumping into other people while walking and staring at the phone would be entirely explainable.