Facebook redesign brings out the closet designers

Posted on February 11, 2010

 

Facebook launched another design update this week, a design update that was greeted with the usual tirade of criticism from a section of its userbase. It seems that whenever Facebook changes something there are always those who will complain about it, insist they’ll never use Facebook again or start groups asking for the old design to be put back.

The last big Facebook redesign saw 1.75 million Facebook members join the group ‘Change Facebook back to normal!’.

Are Facebook’s updates utterly useless? Are Facebook’s designers completely out of touch with what its users want? Or is it more likely that some of the users of Facebook just don’t like change, and find it hard to adjust to even the slightest change in the way something works, something that they use every day?

The latest changes to the Facebook design have seen the notifications button moved to the top, next to friend requests and messages. This makes sense. I have always had a problem with it being at the bottom of the screen, where it was easily missed. Now I know when something has been added that concerns me.

Jing Chen wrote about the changes on Facebook’s blog:

We hope the simplified design of the homepage will make it easy for you to stay connected with the people, applications and activities that matter the most to you.

However, as with every change (not just on Facebook, but in life) there are people who just can’t accept it. One Facebook member, Melisa Rhodes, protested:

This new format makes absolutely NO sense at all. there are TWO places to get your messages which is a waste. There are TWO places to see friends online and to chat … also a complete waste. And there is ONLY ONE feed!!!!!!!!! One newsfeed that changes from second to second where one minute you are reading something …

Another Facebook member, Thomas Langenback, summed up the philosophy of resisting change perfectly when he wrote:

Here’s an idea: why not TEST stuff thoroughly to be sure the BUGS are worked out before making it live! Here’s another idea: why not give people a choice before inflicting a bug-ridden ‘upgrade’ upon them. Here’s the best idea yet: Why not leave well enough alone?

Leave well enough alone’ – a policy guaranteed to ensure that Facebook falls far behind Twitter and allows other social networking websites to catch up and surpass it. Thankfully, these protests are always in the minority and progress, as it always has throughout history, keeps marching on.

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1 Comment »

  1. Matt wrote,

    ‘Leave well enough alone’ – a policy guaranteed to ensure that Facebook falls far behind Twitter and allows other social networking websites to catch up and surpass it. Thankfully, these protests are always in the minority and progress, as it always has throughout history, keeps marching on.

    A little marketing history lesson Matt, try Googling “new coke” and read up on a little history. Maybe then you’ll understand why Facebook should be very concerned when nearly 1% of their worlwide customer base has joined a protest of their new product design in less than 7 days.

    Twitter isn’t going to surpass facebook, it is something entirely different. Facebook is monetized, and it has a brand reputation to preserve. So simply letting a bunch of HTML geeks reinvent the layout every 6 months isn’t the smartest idea. Why should facebook change to compete with Twitter, which serves an utterly different function? Facebook doesn’t try to compete with SMS, which is the most widely used communications platform in the world, well over 100 times more users than Twitter and well over ten times as many users as Facebook.

    Comment by Kevin — February 11, 2010 @ 10:14 pm

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