One year ago today, Apr 4, 2013, Facebook announced Home, which was an interesting and attractive redesign of its News Feed that seemed to lose acceptance within the company or among users. But this post is more about Mark Zuckerberg's views on the future of computing.
First, about Facebook Home design.
Curtis wrote in March 2014:
A year ago, Facebook announced a new News Feed that was completely redesigned to focus on content–it had large photos, big user icons, better integration with Facebook messenger, and it brought Facebook’s website into closer alignment with its mobile apps. It was beautiful. During the few months I was able to use the new design, my Facebook experience was significantly better.
But there was a serious problem: the numbers. According to several people I’ve spoken to, Facebook found during testing that users who were switched to the new News Feed tended to spend less time on the site.
After an investigation into the problem by Facebook’s data team, they discovered that the new News Feed was performing too well. It was performing so well from a design standpoint that users no longer felt the need to browse areas outside of the News Feed as often.
March 2014 response by Julie Zhuo, Facebook Product Design Director, titled Whatever’s Best For The People, That’s What We Do
every design has its day of reckoning. And that reckoning is with the people you design for. If the change you’re introducing is better for them—if it helps them do the things they want to do more easily, if it’s more loved—then your design has succeeded. If it does not achieve these things, then it’s time to roll up your sleeves, learn which of your assumptions were wrong, and get to fixing.
Here’s what we learned: the design we tested a year ago wasn’t better for the majority of people.
A margin commenter for that Medium.com post asked if progressive enhancement was considered, so that people using newer browsers and newer monitors could receive the enhanced view while people using older technology would receive a functioning version that was simpler.
Anyway, the News Feed design is a separate issue.
From Curtis's Apr 4, 2013 post about the launch of Facebook Home:
After showing Facebook Home, Mark Zuckerberg spent a few minutes talking about the future of computing. What he said is the epitome of a vision statement, and it sets the philosophy driving Facebook’s work:
Excerpts from Mark Z:
At one level, [Home] is just the next mobile version of Facebook. At a deeper level, I think this can start to be a change in the relationship that we have with how we use computing devices.
... the modern computing device has a very different place in our lives. It’s not just for productivity and business, although it’s great for that too. It’s for making us more connected, more social, more aware.
When I think about the world today, what amazes me most is the number of people who are getting on the internet every day and how it’s improving their lives as they join this modern knowledge economy.
... only about a third of the world is on the internet today–a little more than two billion people. So we’re really very close to the beginning of this.
If you look out, maybe five or ten years, when all five billion people who have feature phones are going to have smart phones, we’re soon going to be living in a world where the majority of people who have a smart phone–a modern computing device–will have never seen in their lives what you and I call a “computer.”
The very definition of what a computer is and what our relationship with it should be hasn’t been set for the majority of the world. And when it is, I think a lot of that definition is going to be around people first.
This is a deeply technical problem and it’s also a deeply social problem.
Unfortunately as a public company, any new initiatives, especially noble ones, are challenged by its ROI.
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