UIEtips Article: Learning from the Facebook Mini-Feed Disaster

Jared Spool

July 16th, 2007

UIEtips 7/16/07: Learning from the Facebook Mini-Feed Disaster

When teams make critical feature changes in their designs, there’s always a risk of backlash from loyal users. That’s what happened to Facebook, the social networking site, a few months ago. Facebook’s designers created the mini feed, an exciting new feature that promised to offer users a vastly improved experience. Instead, the feature resulted in loyal users getting angry and frustrated with the change.

How could Facebook’s designers have prevented this backlash from users? How can you ensure that you don’t experience a similar fallout when launching a new feature? In this week’s UIEtips article, I discuss what led to the Facebook disaster and how design teams can avoid similar results with their own sites.

Read today’s UIEtips article.

How does your organization handle the launch of new features or products? Has your team experienced any backlash when launching new design features? Join the discussion below about this week’s topic below.

[If you find this article interesting, you'll definitely want to attend this year's UI12 Conference, where I'll present my full-day seminar: New Perspectives in User Experience Design. In this seminar, I'll be sharing my outlook on the state of our field and discuss UIE's latest research.]

5 Responses to “UIEtips Article: Learning from the Facebook Mini-Feed Disaster”

  1. Wes Reed Says:

    It seems like it would have been much smoother to build this as an opt-in feature allowing the user to turn it on when informed and sold on the value. That would prevent backlash and give a natural path to scale-up among the most tolerant users. This also would have added energy to the networking dynamics already in play by allowing users to tell their friends about it.

  2. Joshua Ledwell Says:

    I’ve been thinking about this article. I agree with all of Jared’s conclusions, but nevertheless I feel a sense of futility about it. As I read it, the key points are that organizations must know their users and how they use system features. They must design not only new features, but also the process by which users will learn them.

    It seems to me there are only two cases. One, an organization is user-centered and already knows and follows these practices. Two, an organization is not, so it doesn’t take external feedback, *including this article*, into account.

    How do you get an organization that actually needs this advice to take it?

  3. blog.dsetia.com» Blog Archive » UIEtips Article: Learning from the Facebook Mini-Feed Disaster Says:

    [...] UIEtips 7/16/07: Learning from the Facebook Mini-Feed Disaster When teams make critical feature changes in their designs, there’s always a risk of backlash from loyal users. That’s what happened to Facebook, the social networking site, a few months ago. Facebook’s designers created the mini feed, an exciting new feature that promised to offer users a vastly […] Source: [Link] [...]

  4. Heidi Says:

    I can’t help wondering whether the mini-feed disaster was not in reality a well planned coup by the design team. It seems unlikely that Facebook designers would lack understanding of the core values of the solution, how social networks and the concept of friends worked in the minds of their users. Was the registration rate before mini-feed and during the introduction of the feature and protest campaigns ever compared? How many outraged users did in the end unregister? The success of the feature suggests the innovation filled a real need, its introduction could have been smoother but I wonder if e.g. opting in would have made nation-wide news. I know I should take the users’ part but I can’t help seeing brilliance in the “evil” path.

  5. Ryan Says:

    The “Mini-Feed” is actually a feature on your own facebook profile page listing all of YOUR actions on facebook.

    I believe you are talking about the “News Feed”, which is found on the homepage. This news feed, as you described, lists the activities of your FRIENDS, so you can see what you’re friends’ actions are and what they’re up to.

    It seems odd to revolt against this feature, considering this is what facebook is all about: sharing your content with others. It’s ridiculous that you would publish something on facebook, only to complain later that people are looking at it. There’s a simple solution. If you don’t want to share it then don’t post it!

    Facebook has also recently implemented improved privacy options that address this issue.

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