There are millions of disgruntled users of Facebook flooding its newsfeeds with protests about the new interface. Some are blogging, others have created groups to complain.
But also, as far as the new Facebook changes are concerned, there are people who think we should just “live with it”. It’s free, after all, they argue.
Well, I’ve been having a few discussions defending our stance at YaghiLabs in the forums, and I’d like to clear up some things.
I’m sure, at least to some extent, we’re going to have to learn to live with the new Facebook interface. But i only shared Zak’s letter to Mark Zuckerberg because I thought there was a good marketing lesson ( at least for ME ) in the mistakes Facebook made.
Yes, they made some serious miscalculations.
First let me be clear…
I LOVE the new features Facebook added. There is no doubt in my mind, that they have made the platform BETTER.
However, my objections were more on an Interface level.
I believe that Software Usability is more important than Marketing when it comes to Websites.
USABILITY in a nutshell means users of a website/interface/software:
- Find it INTUITIVE,
- and EASY TO USE,
- and they’re generally SATISFIED with how quickly they can achieve their goals.
Intuitive? The changes are not! They’re alien to the millions who got used to the old interface.
Easy to use? Not really, it’s confusing.
and Satisfied? No, too many are unhappy.
Facebook’s Screwed Up Usability, not Features.
People like new features. They just don’t like having to learn a software they’re used to all over again.
Facebook members are software users, essentially. They’re used to a certain way of doing things.
And if you’re a software developer and you want to update your software with more features, you need to keep usability in mind.
No body likes to have to learn software from scratch every time it’s upgraded. No body likes to learn how to do things they used to know how to do on Facebook either.
Facebook should have made their changes GRADUALLY. This would have allowed people to take it in one feature at a time. Instead, Facebook made ENORMOUS changes that were alien to the millions who had spent months earlier mastering how to get things done on the platform since its last major update!
If we wanted to switch to a new Social Network, now would be the time.
The only reason we stick with one software over another is that we don’t want to have to learn a new platform.
All things being equal, Google+ and Facebook’s new interfaces have now both become “foreign” to users of Facebook.
Google+ made every effort to keep their interface as “familiar” as possible to social network users, mimicking many things from Facebook’s functionality and interface….while Facebook tried to invent a new way all together.
Secondly, Facebook cluttered their interface with strange defaults that are foreign.
Namely, their chat bar is now open by default which is annoying. It doesnt scroll properly or easily, takes forever to search, and is very difficult to browse.
When we hit chat, we want to talk to people who are online. They should be shown first, not the friends we interact with most.
Further, we should be allowed to rearrange our friends into the order we want to see them.
We Have No Control Over Width
Thirdly, the News interface is now in some small box above the friend list. Yes we can resize its height, but we cannot expand its width.
A lot goes on in the newsfeed. With approx. 2,000 friends, my newsfeed moves constantly at a million beats a minute.
Hey, the feature is AWESOME but i’d like to see the feed in a full screen view. I can’t.
We should be able to expand the width of the news bar to the size WE are comfortable with.
Scroll-bars Need a Microscope!
Fourthly, the two panes for News Feed and Friend list need to scroll.
Facebook thinks we can see little invisible scrollbars on the right that only show up when we hover our mouse.The scrollbars are some light gray shade i can barely see and i’d be surprised if many have even noticed.
The scroll-bars are skinny as heck, i need a microscope just to focus my mouse on it!
Which Friggin’ Scrollbar Scrolls What?
Fifthly, the scroll-bars of the News and Friends list are sitting RIGHT NEXT TO THE MAIN WINDOW SCROLL BAR. Literally with no gap.
I don’t know about you, but when I use the scroll-bar I expect it to move different things depending on what i’m focusing my attention on.
Obviously there’s no known technology yet that can predict which part of the Facebook interface i’m hoping to scroll with the main window’s scroll-bar…but…
We are at some point going to want to scroll the main window so we can read a profile, and at some other point we’re going to want to scroll our friends list, and at other points (more often) we’re going to want to scroll the live news feed!
Having any two side-by-side scroll-bars is not going to make it any better. Because it’s UN-INTUITIVE.
Any good Software Interface Designer will tell you plain and simple, that you should NEVER place two scroll-bars side-by-side because it causes confusion (and it’s pretty ugly).
For me, this is the worst error they made.
A Direct Marketing Website Wouldn’t Get Away With It!
Imagine YOU created a landing page on your website as a marketer and had your information laid out like Facebook did…with one small window nested inside another…both with scrollbars.
Would you spend money advertising that page, if you knew that website visitors might be confused about which pane they’re scrolling?
It’s stupid. that’s what it is.
Facebook Will Change
I imagine Facebook will correct these problems with their new interface as soon as they become wise to the confusion.
An easy fix would be to add some PADDING between the small scrollbars and the window’s right edge.
They will also realise, in time, that they should allow us to resize the width of the news feed to our preferences.
And one day, maybe, hopefully, they will let us group and organise our friends the way we like them displayed in the chat bar.
…Or they might do something different all together. Who knows. But they have made interface oversights that need fixing.
To learn more about the importance of Usability in marketing and how to create User-Friendly Websites that sell, study Chapter 4 (Friendly Websites) of the YaghiLabs IBA.