TikTok Design Can Be More Critical Than the Algorithm

Details of the application do it the media of the moment

TikTok makes your day. The social app for short videos reached 2 billion downloads this pandemic year.

Balances for 2020 already place the app as one of the main highlights of technology and culture.

Analysts expect that TikTok will soon reach the “1 billion monthly active users” club.

Zhang Yiming founded ByteDance in 2012. The platform for sharing videos, Douyin, TikTok’s original name, was launched four years later (September 2016).

Since 2018, when it had 300 million users, social media has tripled in size.

The competitive environment of Chinese technological development shows that TikTok’s design is a successful product. The best engineers are on the project.

Search: Sensor Tower

Recommendation system

Is the TikTok algorithm the “big secret” on how to make a video go viral?

A Technical note released in June on the official blog explains how the feed #ForYou works.

According to the company, the videos show up the user’s interests. The goal is to make it easier to find content and creators that “you love.”

The For You feed is one of the defining features of the TikTok platform, but we know there are questions about how recommendations are delivered to your feed.

Recommendation systems are the internet standard. They are in virtually all applications.

They work according to the user’s interaction with the standard inputs.

Social media’s default is to bring content from creators that you actively report to be a follower.

TikTok points out that #For You has the property to reflect the unique preferences of each user.

The initial factors are device and account settings, such as language, country, and mobile phone brand.

The recommendations refine according to the interactions: the videos the user likes and shares, the accounts followed, the comments, the content published.

The pace of several interactions per minute in the passage of videos makes the application have much information about the user.

On YouTube, the user can take minutes for interaction. On Netflix, you can spend hours inactive.

In TikTok, the algorithm evaluates the seconds that the user watches the video. The reaction time for specific categories. The intensity of the touch when changing video.

The company guarantees no two equal feeds. Those are “part of the magic of TikTok.”

Upon some of the same standout videos, each person’s feed is unique and tailored to that specific individual.

The number of followers is a helper factor for creators to get a viral video. However, profiles with few followers get thousands of views that stand out.

One of the questions is how this operation chances the bubbles that usually occur on social media.

In the 3rd Quarter, TikTok introduced a fund to reimburse creators: Creator Fund. In the United States, the investment could reach US$ 1 billion in three years.

The announced information shows parallels with the Medium Partner Program, which pays writers based on the subscribers’ reading time.

Time limit

In a way, the economics of attention has a limitation per user: days still have only 24 hours.

One of the aspects of TikTok is the high number of views that publications get.

That’s because a user can consume 4 to 60 videos in a minute.

In an hour, a single user can count 3600 views.

The time aspect is a cornerstone for developers and designers who work with the User Experience and the User Interface.

I started using TikTok about three months ago when I bought a Xiaomi Redmi 9A. The application was in the cellular.

I knew a little about the TikTok format for viruses that arrive at other media: news websites, Instagram, WhatsApp, Facebook, and Twitter.

The minimalist design of the feed draws attention by privileging the content while having several spaces for interaction.

The large screens of recent cell phones designed the layout of the application elements.

Not without reason, TikTok’s strong appeal to younger people, who tend to have newer devices.

The publication’s title and the creator’s name with @ (highlighted in green in the image above) are in a position contrary to extensive media standards. The white font size 12 is almost a caption.

Another fact is that the name and avatar of the creator (highlighted in yellow) are in different positions. The like, comment, and share buttons are the same size as the avatar.

Among the areas highlighted in green and yellow is the main scroll space of the feed.

The scroll is in the curvature the thumb makes for those who hold the device with the right hand.

The options for start, search, creation, inbox, and profile (highlighted in light blue) use white contrast on a black background with delicate graphics.

The only element without the minimalist style is the creation button, which has the 3D effect of the TikTok logo created by mixing blue with red. This effect brings back memories of 3D films and images with glasses with two-color lenses.

The TikTok application has an intuitive creation tool that allows you to edit and include animated effects and use music easily. In dances' social media, the musician’s avatar is the same size as the creator (yellow highlight).

The screen’s composition allows users to consume videos at a breakneck pace to create a viral effect.


The billion growth of TikTok’s audience makes the internet advertising and sales market interested in the platform.

In-app ads are very similar to the videos themselves. Tiktokers can also seek to monetize thousands of views.

In a social app that favors entertainment and fun, what should be the reception that most serious guidelines should receive.

The effects of media on people’s mental health are among the priority themes of political and economic debate.

Toxicity on networks like Twitter and Facebook, including political discussions, has alienated users.

Will the TikTok engineers allow this error to happen? These are issues that should be guided by media experts in 2021.

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