Facebook Surrenders to Users …

by Sachin Balagopalan on March 25, 2009 · 1 comment

If there is any doubt that Facebook is a young software company and has a lot to learn - especially when it comes to releasing new versions of it’s software - this latest debacle with the updated user interface reiterates that fact. Apparently they are now acquiescing to pressure from their most vocal users and are going to tweak the design to accommodate their demands.

Here are the top four things we’ve been hearing from all of you about the changes, and the areas where we’re focusing on improvements immediately and over the next several weeks.

Add more control and relevance in the stream: One of the great parts of Facebook is the ability to share and consume different types of content, such as photos, videos and notes, all in one place. We’ve heard from you that you want even more variety and control in your stream, and for it to update automatically. Some specific improvements we’re making are:

Live updating: One of the most common requests is the ability to see your stream update automatically. We will be adding the ability to turn on auto updating in the near future so you no longer need to refresh the page.
Photo tags: In order to surface more photos you might like to see, we’ll be adding photos tagged of your friends to the stream. This will happen in the coming weeks.

More choices for applications: We’ve heard feedback that there is a lot of application content appearing in the stream. We will be giving you tools to control and reduce application content that your friends share into your stream.

I’m not too crazy for a democratic Facebook and I think this is ridiculous. They are folding like a two dollar suit IMO. Here is the other thing … based on their poll around 1.3 million users voted and out of that 1.2 million disapproved of the new homepage. That means over 175 million users did not register or vote. Sure the 1.3 million users who took the time to vote are just as important as the overwhelming majority who didn’t give a damn. However the numbers are comparatively minuscule and incorporating the views of a few disgruntled users who in all honesty are probably averse to change anyway is not the way to run a software company IMO. There is a reason why software companies have designers and product managers. These folks evaluate the feedback from the user community and make decisions as to what is good and what won’t work with respect to the overall strategy of the company.

What makes companies like Facebook great is the fact they deviate from the norm and bring something totally new to the table. I hope Facebook gets out of this “democracy” business and continues to innovate and bring about change. I don’t care if a few million users don’t like the new look and feel. Deal with it. You’ll live!

{ 1 comment… read it below or add one }

Steve 03.26.09 at 7:50 am

While I can agree that there is an annoying, whiny tone to the criticism, I do not agree with you that facebook's best response is to do nothing, and that to respond to the criticism indicates weakness on their part. Statistical principles suggest that the poll responses do reflect the feelings of the larger population. You cannot conclude that 175 million don't give a damn. It is difficult to draw firm conclusions of any kind from this data because the sample is definitely biased, but that is probably the least sound conclusion. Further, IMHO, the addition of more granular filtering is a very positive and constructive response on the part of fb. It is not a “fold” at all. It is a further enhancement to what they have done.

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