Everyone’s talking about it. Facebook have gone and done the unthinkable. They’ve changed the design of their homepage, played with the functionality and added a couple of features. How dare they change the way you communicate with your family and friends? How dare they change the way you see their updates? How dare they change the way you use their site? Forget the fact that users have never had to pay a penny for a service which has played a sizeable role in their recent lives, how dare they?
Up until now, it has been free. If you consider the cost to be a lack of privacy and your personal information being available to advertisers, why are you on there? Why are you sharing? We’ve never actually had to pay for something which has brought us many benefits. If these changes have caused such frustration and annoyance, why not jump ship? Google+ is waiting with open arms.
The reason most users probably won’t jump ship is because Facebook still provides a free and easy way to meet their online social needs. Design and user experience is important but it’s not at the heart of the matter – motivations and needs are. I’m not saying that a new design isn’t annoying at first, and that it may not be slightly harder to do what you did before, but it is not a big enough reason to leave. Heck, privacy isn’t a big enough reason for most people. To move, another service would need to allow you to meet these social needs significantly better. Not a little bit, significantly. And then you and your connections will all have to make that jump.
Many of your social foundations are built in the blue and white place. Yes, you may be building them in other places too, but there is definitely a reason why you keep going back. It’s where many of your conversations and experiences are shared with friends and loved ones, and where they have been shared in the past. Changes to design and user experience will probably not outweigh what you have already built there, one will always outweigh the other, and it won’t be long until the last ‘version’ of Facebook is forgotten
“If it’s not broke, don’t fix it” and “Facebook doesn’t listen to their users” are two common messages being posted at the moment. One of the main reasons Facebook has reached the stage that it has, and has dominated social networking, is because it has listened. Not just to the words of the vocal few, but to user behaviour over time. You keep using the site because they have listened, and so advertisers keep paying. Changes are not made to annoy you – they are made to meet your needs, to keep you using their site and to encourage you to keep laying these foundations. These changes keep working.
I may be a hypocrite. I may also get annoyed. I do tend to come around though and remember that Facebook are providing me with these benefits free of charge, that they know how I use their site better than I do, that they’re probably able to predict how I will want to use their site in the future better than I could, and that a few changes to design and functionality won’t cause us to go through a very painful divorce.
Will you go through a Facebook divorce?
Are you attracted to another service?
Are your family and friends moving too?
Do you think I’ve got it wrong and that this time, Facebook has finally gone too far?
(Within 24 hours of writing this post, Facebook announced the Timeline and Open Graph. Their methods of tracking your activity when you’re logged out has also been in the headline. Privacy is again the issue being discussed)
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