The Odd Face Of Facebook

Facebook, one of the fastest-growing social network sites, has screwed up its User Interface (UI) design with its new look. Take a look at the top of your Facebook page. Now you tell me in 5 seconds the intuitive difference between clicking on: [Facebook] and [home], [home] and [profile], [profile] and [Georges van Hoegaerden], [settings] and [profile], and [settings] and [Georges van Hoegaerden].

But more importantly, Facebook has not read my blog on removing the technology language to appeal to consumers, an issue that prevents many consumer technology companies from maximizing their growth potential. But who’s counting at Facebook these days?

Facebook is a technology company that exposes social networking capabilities in a very technological fashion. The examples are plenty: the workings of the UI described above, the categorization of data optimized to suit their internal data-models and the very complicated way to add applications to the platform, and we can keep going on. But for now, they’ll get away with it. Other consumer technology companies won’t be that lucky.

An excellent user interface can never be an objective by itself as that presents a pretty face, try living with a person that only has that. The ultimate user experience (and this is where I politically depart from the previous analogy), is defined by an ecosystem of capabilities, cost, and ease-of-use that creates the real and sustainable appeal.

BMW figured out early on that the Ultimate Driving Experience™ is what sells cars, albeit their engine capabilities and timing were their initial core strengths. Today they sell the sum of all parts, The Ultimate Driving experience: excellent engine capabilities, spiffy performance, practical design, and outstanding comfort – an exciting way to drive from A to B.

Facebook currently has a horrible “Ultimate Social Experience”: good (but no longer unique) social networking, mediocre performance, abstract design, and pretty lousy comfort. Those are probably the reasons why 90% of my Facebook friends never use any Facebook features but create an account.

Many of Facebook’s recent poor decisions (including ad network issues, etc.) are evidence that user growth is outpacing their ability to grow up. And that could be catastrophic. Facebook is a great social networking platform with a lot of potentials that many people rely on.

Facebook better watch out and prevent that too many people will start hating it. Those same users may use Facebook’s social networking capability to turn it off as fast as they initially turned it on.


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