Here’s a snippet from What Was Facebook’s Best Redesign, Anyway? [Technologizer]
I had fun looking back at the fruitless nature of Facebook redesign backlash. No one is surprised anymore when a redesigned Facebook home page–such as the one that rolled out today–causes an outrage.
But that made me wonder: what design, exactly, do people want? Was there ever a single home page layout to which Facebook users, given the choice, would happily revert? In other words, have we cooked up in our minds some ideal vision of an “old Facebook” that never really existed?
I’d like to declare this as a National Week of Umbrage. Between Netflix and Facebook, it’s been a strange few days. And still, we have our share of “It’s just a [blank], get over it!” and (as in that post) “What do people WANT?” Sadly, most of it misses the point. While there are definitely features that suck (wait, I’ve got to manage two queues? wait, you’ve reordered stories from the friends I just recategorized according to what scheme again?) and of course features that are improved, this is really about how you manage change. This isn’t, ultimately, about features. Facebook is the social OS for many many people. Netflix is the entertainment OS for many many people. We invest countless hours in using the thing, including setting it up just the way we want. That’s our choice, in fact, it’s almost an imperative. I can organize my fridge and my sock drawer in a way that I find appealing, satisfying, efficient, or whatever. And no, I don’t have to be on the autism spectrum to do that and to find reward from doing that.
When things change, without warning, without rationale, without a clear sense of how things are different – and better – for me, without an easy way to adjust to the changes, then we’ve got a problem. Google Docs redesigned something or other the other day. Today I previewed the changes. They are vaguely dramatic, aesthetically. But my workflow hasn’t changed, and I will adjust. I didn’t find myself unable to find my docs, or having to do more work instead. I’d hardly hold up Google as some ideal user-centered culture, but they seem, in general, to roll out redesigns, and even business changes, without a lot of teeth-gnashing on our part.
The intimate relationships we have with these services are indeed emotional ones. When change is foisted surprisingly on you, it’s unsettling.
Change is inevitable, necessary, good. But I’d love to see some less-hamfisted rollouts, and I’d love to see these companies understand – at the very fiber of their being – how much we are connected to their products and how their brutish ways make us feel. It’s not the medium, it’s the lack of message.