Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Facebook: user experience nightmare?

Dear Facebook,

This is an unusual attempt to communicate with you. A decision I made after getting the above mentioned message quite frequently while working with Facebook. I see no other way to communicate then blogging about it as I don't know your email address or phone number. So here it goes and I will limit it to three points.

Users want consistency in working with an application. Now I do understand that you provide users with some options to customize their view of the Facebook world. However it is fairly annoying that user interface consistency does not have a high priority in your view of how Facebook should look like. For example, tabs come and go when using them to navigate and this makes me feel very uncomfortable. As if something unintentionally gets lost.

Please provide some help if something that should be intuitive isn't available on the main page or menus. It is embarrassing that a person with more then two decades of experience on all kind of applications and platforms has to see a non-IT buddy to find out how to create a group in Facebook. Like a doctor who feels sick and doesn't know what to do.
After lots of communication with my buddy and some serious user interface testing, I discovered that the button to create a group shows up AFTER you typed "groups" in the search function and ONLY if you run Internet Explorer. Those who use Firefox or Safari get a completely different screen presented as a result of the search. Are those users not entitled to create a group? Oh wait a minute: groups is an application! That makes sense. At least when you are an IT engineer. How come this took me two days to find out?
By the way: googling with "how to get help on facebook" tells me that "Get Help" on Facebook is a music band in New York. And why is "Facebook Help" located in Turkey? Don't you have somebody on your staff in Palo Alto to write help pages? Or is this an outdated concept?

We, users, aren't dumb or ignorant with occasional brain farts. When something goes bad while working with Facebook, please provide us with a meaningful feedback. Here again, I realize that it is not straight forward to design and write good consistent exception handlers. If the "Oops message" (see above) is all you can do, you might as well just quit the session. At least then I will feel that it was my fault.

Kind regards,

PS The above open letter is a rant. However, I do want to use Facebook and encourage others to create a meaningful online presence of communities.

© Peter Bodifée 2009. All rights reserved.

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