Tuesday, March 17, 2009

In Defense of the Facebook Redesign [FB NOTE]

NOTE: This blog was previously published as a [Facebook Note] at http://facebook.com/jesse.ferrell but has been absorbed into Jesse's main blog for archival purposes.

I'm seeing a lot of people against the new Facebook redesign launched this month, and that troubles me, because I believe the changes are positive for the long run. I am personally involved in a website redesign of AccuWeather.com Premium this week, so this hits home for me.

Most people are not saying why they don't like the new pages, and this is not surprising because most people just don't like change. It's upsetting because many objects have moved around and for a few days the site might actually be harder for you to use. It's as if you came home to your apartment and found your furniture rearranged by your landlord.

But from a designer and marketer point of view, I understand why they did what they did. Facebook, like all website, wants to grow faster. For new users, the site was very confusing and hard to use. Pages (business pages) worked differently and looked differently than Profiles (personal pages). The Publisher worked differently on different pages, making it harder to publish information.

Some people also say that they "stole" Twitter's design for the News Feed area. I'd like to think that both companies came to the same conclusion, that this design is what makes the most sense to users, and that may be true, though I did kind of expect something a little more creative from Facebook.

Still, it works for me, and I find the new site much easier to use and more fulfilling than the old.

What I'd like to see next is some changes to the Applications area - I find most applications aren't easy to use or don't work at all and I'd bet 75% of applications that people have signed up for aren't being used. Some of that, but not all, is due to problems by the application developers, though I think Facebook could do more to help them when they are creating their applications.

For the AccuWeather.com Premium design, we are so scared of the backlash that we're actually running both sites in tandem for at least six months, maybe forever. But the sheer size of Facebook's clientele dictates that would be nearly impossible, technologically, so I understand why they did it all in one fell swoop.