Facebook Caves to Critics; Bad Idea?

Facebook’s re-design is getting some tweaking.
After a deluge of negative feedback and accusations the social media giant was trying to become more “twitter-like”, Facebook Product Director Christopher Cox unveiled the changes in his blog on Thursday.face

The changes already in the works include:

  • Live Updating: You won’t have to refresh the page to see what’s new.
  • Photo tags: Facebook will add photos tagged with a person’s friends to her stream.
  • Applications: Users will have the ability to cut down on the application-related content that’s showing up in streams.
  • Highlights: This section in the right-hand column will update more frequently and show more content so it’ll be more like the old News Feed.
  • Requests: Friend requests and event invites will be moved to the top of the right-hand column so they’re more prominent.
  • Friends lists: Users will be able to create a new list of friends with which to filter their streams.
  • Not everyone thinks Facebook’s decision is the right one.

    Remember the Coca-Cola “New Coke” fiasco? I was a young market researcher who did some in home testing of the product. Nothing was wrong with the product. Tasters actually preferred the new formula. But once it hit the market and Coke fans learned their familiar classic coke would be going away..

    Steve Safran at MediaReinvents makes the case for, sometimes, ignoring polls, surveys, and research:

    Sometimes, when you ask the audience what it wants, the data is flawed. This is not because the audience doesn’t know what it desires; it just doesn’t realize what the outcome may be.

    The short history of Facebook is one of reinvention and change. And the one constant in all of this is complaints. Whenever Facebook changes, its existing audience base complains. My experience in 10 years of running websites was exactly the same; even an incremental change on our website was sure to elicit angry emails. So, why not change it immediately?


    FACEBOOK’s Cox, “Whenever we build something new or tweak something old, our motivation is the same: to help you share with the people you care about and find out what’s happening with them.”
    Before we launch any new product, it first must pass a process of design, development and testing with a more limited user audience. If those results are satisfactory, we then release it for all of you to use, added Cox. “We know that no amount of testing is as valuable as what you have to say. For this reason, we will always look to you, our users, to tell us what is working and what isn’t so we can continually make improvements.”

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