Mar 20, 2011

Would you prefer it if Facebook looked like this?

It's interesting to see other designers really concerned about the web aesthetics, look and feel. Although, it seems for many people, friends, family and colleagues -and most of my clients- refer to Facebook as the "web". I am sure you've heard a client ask for web design "I want it to be like Facebook, only better" .. hehehe.

Thank you Jonathan Moreira for standing up and pointing out where the most popular -and not necessarily the best- site fails.. or at least that's how I see it. I wrote to Facebook a couple of times about user experience and interaction style...but it seems my "style" of indicating what should be improved has fallen on deaf ears.. not that I, Maher Berro, am a fancy or important user experience designer.. eventually I am nobody trying to be somebody; but if there is something I have learned along the way of user experience is to consider every single feedback from your users, whether it was trivial, nasty or out of context... it may be shedding light on aspects no one has yet addressed!

Original Post and Source:


Alisar said...

I think most people do not care what the site looks like since they are so consumed with other people's business and spreading mostly useless things on the net. However, a well designed site always pulls me in and I would like to see the site improve design wise. Keep up the good work Maher; even if the facebook gang does not respond. Speak out no matter what.

Anya Evseyeva, 2009 said...

thats pretty amazing! I dont use facebook but i can see the improvements straight away!. Good one Maher!

Anonymous said...

Good point.
Maybe facebook looked at you as a User Experience designer and not as a user, so their ego stood in the way :)

I would like to hear more detail for pointing out some of the things you might have enhanced in facebook...

Because there are things in the image posted that are good like having a bit more contrast, the small icons are simpler and more graphical, and having more identity for facebook as a website; however as I was going back and forth comparing it with the current facebook page, some things in the designed sample made me feel uncomfortable, like the vast amount of space taken by the blue and black strips on top, and the heavy dark block they formed above, the frames around the profile pic, the right column gradients, the shadows for comment boxes, some of the reliefs in general, the narrow left column, and the amount of space taken in general as the screens are getting smaller and more mobile...

I guess at facebook they are aiming to make facebook more of a utility than a website, as I was watching a program on CNBC Europe about facebook just yesterday, so being a platform for connecting web users might need this stripping down of all things that enhance the image of facebook as a website and keeping it with a somehow incomplete and continuous changing of interface as an experiment and keeping users learning where the wall link has gone, or how the group feature has changed to, etc...

As I compare it to myspace and its new facelift, which is cool and I like it as a designer and visually as a user, but I just can't link it to other brands because it is still a website with a definite identity that may/maynot match other brands' identities or users' tastes, if you know what I mean.
I don't know if that makes sense..
What do you think Maher?

I'd like to hear it, and hey, maybe you could even send them your own vision of the interface and show it to us!

maher berro said...

Hear hear :) can't but agree on the "slaves to consumerism and her look at me".
You know me better, I stand up for what I believe in even if I have to stand alone ;)

Oh, thanks! But it's not my design :) I am just discussing what may be improved in Facebook... They think they are "the web" but are far far away (in my arrogant, not so humble perception)

You have extracted what I spared commenting on the proposed design! Happy to see that it's not all in my mind.. hehe. And I second every comment you said as you highlighted all the elements that seemed visually imperfect. I would only add that gradient effects may seem trendy but has been overused and abused.

Some of the recent issues I communicated is their new image gallery or photo viewer with seems to be forced on users without prior usability testing. Maybe it's just me, but out of 20 of my friends, none labeled the new interface as pleasant, and I see it as an indicative of other "focus group" that may have or may have not conducted prior to launch. And indeed, little attention is paid for "branding" ... it's shifting from a social tool or utility as you mentioned, to a business tool, a commercial one!

As a utility or mobile friendly, I guess the majority of the users will still remain behind a computer screen. That said, its penetration is growing into the mobile as well as less tech-savvy nations/groups. So the audience is the widest audience one can cater for, from teens to grand-mas and grand-pas, from ludidtes to geeks and from einsteins to dumdums. I don't envy the UX folks over there but I believe their job is challenging and would love to contribute, one way or another.

Ultimately, one of the reasons behind sharing this post is to trigger thoughts -both mine and my audience's-, to "think" and "react/act" and refrain from just accepting or "consuming" and becoming "slaves to consumerism". And that design and aesthetics are not icing on the cake; most people -mostly clients, managers and developers- or at least people who are not familiar with user experience -and people who define UX as "user friendly"- believe that designers will refer to their Crayola set and "design" the website.

hehe.. yes.. you can pause on that and draw back from your own experience!

Anyway, my default reaction to such encounters would be making use of the F3 using my hand instead of a keyboard :P ... then again... my duty and role is to "educate" my client, whether it's a business client, a manager, a colleague or a friend... so I find myself walking around with a white board and a red marker! :P