This is interesting - of course Facebook have many, many different things to consider about what is best for their users - but the detail Julie goes into about why that design was problematic still doesn't make a lot of sense to me. Arguments about a smaller average screen size and photos outsizing viewports seem weak in the face of responsive web design.
On the other hand I can see the points about the side navigation not ideal for desktop.
I had the same thoughts. Her points about the redesign reducing site-wide interaction and therefore resulting in a less immersive experience make sense. It's also interesting to hear that they pulled the redesign even though it generated higher revenues.
However, the points she led with, about viewport size and screen resolution shocked me. I'd be surprised if a single designer on Facebook's team pitched a design that wasn't optimised for multiple screen sizes. But to think that a design got built and almost shipped without anyone thinking how it might work on different screen sizes seems absurd to me.
Eric Stevens There is something to be said here about embracing responsive design. If you know what something is consumed on, you have to design for it. If I have a basic Symbian phone in India give me consumable content for that device. If I have a high bandwidth flatscreen, then give me content for that device. Its not rocket science, and Facebook has the resources.
..most of the people we showed the design to told us they didn’t like it more than what they previously had.
It's written from Facebook's perspective to deliver their experience to everyone. Unfortunately this entire post consists of one (weak) argument from a users input.
That doesn't seem right (the quote). Pretty much every major change Facebook makes is met with widespread resistance.
People like improvement what they fear is change.
Don't run into the trap of thinking that change equals improvement from the users point of view. It rarely do as they like what they have even if they don't love it.
For many change is un-aesthetic even if it improves things in the long run.
Mmm. I see weak points in the argumentation: she said the new one had problems fitting in every screen and I don't see how they solve it, really, the new design also uses extreme images and big chunk modules.
I think, as NN Group stated in many studies, that vertical scrolling and comsumption isn't the problem. What I don't see in those redesigns is ads, where the hell the ads are?
Like all the unsolicited designs out there: no ads, no design.
Responsive, responsive, we want some responsive! Come on, we're in 2014 and you're Facebook! FACE-BOOK!
If more scrolling is required because every story is taller, or navigation requires greater mouse movement because it’s further away, then the site becomes harder to use.
so scrap the whole design? simpler solution would be to adjust sizing accordingly. though both designs (and the entire site) require heavy amounts of scrolling. smells like bullshit.
Not the greatest comeback in the world, but it's still refreshing to hear about the process from Facebook's end. I agree with some of the comments above, a little weak "blaming" smaller screen sizes and older technology. Work around that.
In the end, regardless of screen sizes, the last redesign was TOO much of a leap. Even with the current new one, I was super confused at first - and I spend all day online.
The brain has been trained for so long in regards to the old layout that even just increasing pictures sizes creates a large UX pain point at first. The issue to me would be more about how quickly people could get comfortable with the new way. I'm guessing it was too much of a jump... which would lead to less engagement and frustration. People get comfortable with things - especially design. This is why when a new redesigned car comes out, half the people immediately complain how the outgoing model looked better. It's about comfort... and with Facebook... comfort is key.
What I find interesting about the new redesign is that when compared to the old site and the "failed" redesign... it's a fantastic middle-ground. Instead of diving into the pool... they are getting our feet wet. With this new design... once users get comfy with it over a year or so... if they THEN brought back the "failed" design... it would be much less of a shock (especially from a general layout perspective). Then people would probably rejoice that they got rid of all that cluttered text on the left. Heh.
When your product is so mainstream (for the lack of a better word) as Facebook's News Feed it's not strange that you focus on the bottom.
This is many designers employ progressive enhancement, to ensure everyone gets the best experience possible on the device they are using. Facebook seems to have opted not for this, but to deliver the lowest common denominator design and feature set to all users.
Of course. I agree. But this is Facebook. Name another site with a billion users. I can imagine it's very hard to deliver a design that is perfect for everybody while staying consistent.
I'd like to see the demographic of users who actually were able to test the "new design that was axed". It seems from the OP's statements that "most" had low end machines and were a-typical users who value convenience over looks and functionality. How about Facebook offering several views to choose from via the settings tab and let the user choose their own style. That seems like the best way to appease everyone.
This doesn't work the way I think you think it works. A choice like this adds several codebases to support, it adds features that are different on different usergroups, and it adds complication that isn't nessesary nor smart. Better would be to ensure a solid baseline with minor improvements for some users.
Honestly they can't have some features not work or function on lower end devices etc. They have a need to ensure that everyone sees the same thing most of the time. They can do things like "oh this doesn't get a drop shadow" progressive improvements, however it can't have some features functioning, looking, in any way different for users.
I really agree here. Its so easy for technologists and designers to think that what we use is common but really we are in the minority of the technical users. While I don't exactly love Facebook's design, I appreciate how frustrating and difficult it is to design for less-technical end. Its like designing for older IE browsers, multiplied times a few million.
The thing that bugs me is the assumption to always go for the bottom end and tailor the experience to that. Yet it is possible to accommodate larger and smaller screen resolutions, but it is always overlooked.
I'm probably not fully aware of the process, but it should be possible surely.
I have worked at large internet companies of the world for years (Yahoo! and Google) and I can completely understand where Julie is coming from - the "prettiest" design with the best design intend might not be the actual shipping product.
What usually ended up shipping is the "evolution" of the existing design -- because that will cause the least rifts among large userbase, people within the company, or even w/ the press. It's business.
Not every company can pull an "iOS 6 -> iOS 7". Not even Facebook.
The old design we tested last year would actually have been positive for revenue. But that’s not a reason to ship a worse design.
Given that the majority of the users had poor browsing experience with the new tested design, I'm curious which aspects of the design actually generated more revenue.
Every now and then Dustin posts some stuff with some interesting primary sourcing. But I'm wondering how this affects his relationships with his 'sources'.
Anyways, to the article: these are all reasonable perspectives and Julie's comment about 'what defines better' is really at the heart of it. Dustin has one philosophy and I think Julie's position at Facebook clearly suggests another, especially with the huge user base.
The crux of the original post was the quote about numbers. The newsfeed just happens to be a prominent, convenient example. I don't think anything Julie said directly responded to the idea that 'whatever goes up, we do'