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Why Facebook, Why?

Written by on March 4, 2009

You know, I have never really liked Facebook. I use it, and a like the interaction between people, but I absolutely hate the 'usability'. They just don't get it.

You know, Facebook is this strange place. They have more success than any other "social" site on the planet. And yet, all they do is to repeatedly suck at doing something good.

The latest insane move happened just a few hours ago, when Facebook decided to ruin the Facebook pages, and replace them with something completely useless.

Yesterday, people, groups and companies could make their own Facebook page - promoting a cause, or just create a place for people to share a common interest. And the Facebook pages actually worked. Their owners could reorganize the page to best suit the content. They could add custom made apps, to enhance the experience - and you could generally create something worthwhile. Something usable.

But now, Facebook have decided that pages should use the same inflexible crappy layout as you have on your own profile. Meaning that custom content is placed under the "boxes" tab, "interactions" is only visible on the wall tab, photos on the photos tab, and info about the site is under the info tab.

(see: Baekdal.com Facebook page)

This is the most ridicules thing I have ever seen. Before you could mix all these things to create the best experience, to really enhance the message. Give people what they wanted, and allow them to respond directly.

Now everyone is forced to navigate around. Go to one tab to get info, go to another to get an experience, go to a third to leave a comment.

They had a goldmine in their hands, a place for people to get together, a place for communities to develop, a place for companies to share the fun... And they threw it all away.

Facebook just got a lot less interesting for business to engage with. And it also just got a lot less interesting for people, because this limits what kinds of interaction you can have.

This is my advice to the people behind Facebook:

  1. Give yourself a good (and long) beating, and repeat doing this until it really hurts.
  2. Pick up the book 'The Humane Interface', by Jef Raskin. It is a very old book, but it teaches some of the very basic usability principles, which it seems they have completely missed.
  3. Pick up Seth Godin's latest book 'Tribes', to read about the world they should have designed for.

Taking away control, and replacing it with complexity is just not the way to create a great product.

You either take away control, and replace it with something that is clean, easy and efficient (like Apple), or you give people more control, but make it very simple to work with.

Update: ZDNet don't like it either

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Thomas Baekdal

Thomas Baekdal

Founder of Baekdal, author, writer, strategic consultant, and new media advocate.

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