First SMS message was sent in 1992, so more than 25 years ago. Despite (or due to) it’s simplicity and limitations it’s available on every mobile device nowadays — no matter it’s original Nokia 3310 (the year 2000) or brand new iPhone XS Max.
Simultaneously, most of us use feature-bloated services like iMessage, Messenger or WhatsApp. They allow us to send not only (longer) text messages, but photos as well… videos, GIFs, stickers, location, money… we can customize every conversation, see the activity status of our friends and the messages we sent. And more features are still coming.
Delivering many possibilities and offering more versatility, makes our experience less distinctive, not so unique. We could simply say:
More is less.
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.