I figured I’d give the latest changes to Facebook a day of use before I commented on them. When I saw the changes early yesterday, they didn’t seem so bad. My biggest problem was trying to understand how they worked. I’m a fairly tech-savvy guy and I don’t think it took me too long. I even posted a comment somewhere saying that I didn’t think the changes were all that bad. (There were lots of people complaining yesterday.) However, as the day wore on, the changes started to irritate me, then annoy me, and finally, I grew to dislike them. There are a number of reasons for this, several of which are based on my own experience as a software developer:
- My screen is way too cluttered. Compare the new look of Facebook with the new look of Google apps like Gmail, Docs, Google+, etc. The latter looks much less cluttered, the screen more clear and readable. This is important because you can only take in so much information at once. Everything else becomes distraction.
- The definitions are too ambiguous. What is a “top story?” If you select the pull-down menu next to a post you’ll get several options. One option is to show all posts by the user. Another option is to show “most” posts (see image below). What does it mean to show “most” posts? What makes a post “important?” How do you know which posts will be shown and which posts won’t be shown? It is way too ambiguous for me.
- The “Ticker” is too distracting. I do like that I can make updates or see photos directly from the Ticker, but I still find it too distracting.
- There doesn’t seem to be any kind of rollout communication strategy. Google has gotten particularly good at making its users aware of upcoming changes and how those changes will be rolled out. They often make blog posts describing their new features and changes and explaining why they have made the change. With Facebook, the change just appears unannounced without anything more than a few popups to explain what’s going on. Furthermore, with Google, you usually have the opportunity to preview changes before they go into effect, and sometimes, you can keep the old look and feel even after the changes take place. Not so, Facebook.
The truth is, for me, that I don’t use Facebook nearly as much as I used to. Sure, my blog posts get relayed there. My tweets get relayed there, but I only check Facebook a few times a day. Most of my social networking time is spent in Twitter. These recent changes from Facebook, along with the changes they introduced for friends lists makes it seem like they got caught with their pants down when Google+ came out and are now working desperately to catch up.