FB Messenger

Integrating a pinning feature on Facebook Messenger designed to support consistent and frictionless communication.

Put a Pin in It

A Facebook Messenger Case Study


Product Designer


Feb 2020 - May 2020




Ideation, Prototyping, Figma

Left on Read (again)

“Was it something I said?” We all know the dreadful feeling of being left on read in the middle of a text conversation. Until the next inevitable message comes a couple of days later when the other person responds, claiming they forgot to respond.

Why does this happen? Why do users forget to respond to messages when we have notification banners and “marking as unread” that aim to prevent forgetfulness? When people message each other on Messenger, they want to maintain a natural flow in conversation by following up in a timely manner, but can’t do that well because:

  1. They are too busy to respond right away.
  2. Newer chats bury the opened chats in the inbox.

With this problem statement in mind, I conducted user research to further understand user habits on Facebook Messenger.

User Research

My goal in user research was to understand how Messenger helps foster relationships among users. Here are my findings:

  1. Users want to reply to messages at a later convenient time, but sometimes forget to reply when that time comes.

  2. Users want to organize their Messenger chats to suit their preferences (e.g. “Favorites”, or “Priority”).

  3. Users want to keep in touch with old connections, but with the regular influx of new friends and conversations, they tend to forget about them.


Talking with these participants, I realized that Messenger doesn’t have a streamlined way to communicate with a wide array of friends whose chats aren’t easily accessible on the main screen. Users want to maintain consistent communication with everyone, but find that the frequent influx of new connections and group chats ultimately results in delayed conversations and fizzled-out communication.

So, I’m left with this question:

How can Messenger maintain its casual messaging concept while holding users accountable for consistently messaging their friends?



I recruited some of my friends to help me brainstorm ways to improve consistent communication on Messenger. After exploring numerous ideas, we narrowed them down to three main opportunity areas:

  1. Chat Organization

    : How might we organize chats on the main screen to increase engagement with older chats?
  2. Message Reminders

    : How might we encourage users to reply to the messages they’ve seen?
  3. Keeping in Touch

    : How might we motivate users to catch up with old group chats and connections?

With these opportunity areas in mind, I came up with several potential solutions to address inconsistencies in Messenger communication.

Starred Messages Starred Messages: Users have the option to mark their friend’s message with a star so that if the user is busy at the moment and can’t reply right away, the star indicates to the friend that the user will get back to them soon.

Follow up Follow-up Notifications: This feature reminds users to respond after they’ve read a message but have not yet responded. The notification pops up next to the chat and the chat appears first in the main page, so that users can easily access it as soon as they open the app.

End of Year Analytics End-of-Year Analytics: This feature would give users an insight on their messaging habits as well as display pictures and messages from both current and formerly-active group chats.

Choosing a Feature

After considering the impact and feasibility of these potential features, I decided to proceed with the Starred Messages feature. While the Follow-up Notifications feature is feasible, it may be low impact because users might deliberately choose to not respond to opened messages. The End-of-Year Analytics has relatively low feasibility and low impact, because users might not be inclined to reach out to old group chats after seeing the data. With these factors in mind, I moved forward with the Starred Messages feature.

Medium Fidelity Explorations

I decided to change the star icon to be a checkbox instead, creating a Message Checklist on the main page so that users can “check off” the messages that they’ve replied to. After the initial round of explorations, I studied how my user testing participants interacted with the designs.

Home Layout

Entry Point: The Message Checklist on the main screen sets the tone for the feature and dictates the rest of the flow. It‘s critical to clearly and intuitively convey the concept of the feature while maintaining Messenger’s minimalistic layout. Of the four entry points, users gravitated towards entry point A since the placement of the checkbox aligned on the left makes sense intuitively.

Chat View

Chat View: Users were confused by the checkboxes next to the message in Chat Views A and B, because they thought they were supposed to check these checkboxes manually. The exclamation point in D was misleading, because users thought that message contained an error.

Response Confirmation

Response Confirmation: Users thought that screen B was the clearest confirmation after responding to a priority message, because of the confirmation text that complemented the icon.

Findings from User Testing

Analyzing the feedback I received from user testing, the overarching theme was to keep the product design similar to Messenger’s casual style. I overcomplicated what is essentially a pinning feature by implementing checkboxes, which were confusing to the users and unnecessary to accomplish the ultimate goal of this feature: to remind users to respond messages they have already seen. And thus began the rebranding of this Message Checklist concept to what is now the Pinning feature.

Pinpointing the Solution

With the concept of pins instead of checkboxes, I explored various ways of integrating the pins on the home page and the pinned messages in the chat. I kept in mind the importance of maintaining Messenger’s fun and casual messaging concept by matching the pinning feature to the existing design and UI of Messenger.

From my user feedback, I also realized that users not only want to pin specific messages, but they also want to pin whole chats directly from the main screen without having to tap into the chat first. In my final iteration of explorations, I also considered different ways to pin and unpin both messages and chats.

Final Prototype

Here are three different entry points to pin a message or chat.

Prototype 1

(1) Tap and hold message to pin

Prototype 2

(2) Swipe left on message to pin

Prototype 3

(3) Swipe left on chat to pin


Looking back at my overall project journey, I started with an initial "starring" concept for organizing messages, then pivoted to the message checklist feature, and finally landed on this pinning feature. This pinning feature combines both the prioritizing aspect of the starring feature as well as the feeling of accountability in the checklist feature. While it was at times frustrating to hit roadblocks like these initial ideas that didn't feel as impactful as I'd like, I quickly learned that this is part of the beauty of design: iteration.

This was my first case study and exposure to product design, and I can't wait to apply the foundational skills I gained to more projects in the near future!