Facebook disrupted UX design

By | CYH

Facebook is well known for becoming the most important social network in the world. But little did people realise that Facebook has disrupted User Experience design when it comes to consuming information, especially on mobile devices.

The disruption to UX design was the introduction of the News Feed in 2006. I remembered it had a lot of resistance and here’s what was documented on Wikipedia:

Before 2006, Facebook simply consisted of profiles, requiring the user to visit a profile to see any new posts. On September 6, 2006, Facebook announced a new home page feature called “News Feed”. The new layout created an alternative home page in which users saw a constantly updated list of their friends’ Facebook activities. Initially, the addition of the News Feed caused discontent among Facebook users, many of which complained that the feed was too intrusive, detailing every moment with timestamps, and violated their privacy. Some called for a boycott of the company.

The resistance has been long gone and now we treat it as a norm. In fact, News Feed has become a de facto way of navigation in many other apps like Instagram, LinkedIn, Weibo, etc.

It might be true, and we’ll never know, that Facebook may not be the very first platform to use News Feed but she did it at scale to have an impact. Anyway Facebook isn’t the first social network either. As Peter Thiel said, it is better to be the last mover that stays in the market than a first mover who gets ousted.

Here are some learning points:

  1. Revolutionary products or services would meet resistance. It is about change and unconventional things are hard for conventional masses to accept at the beginning.
  2. If your product or service has such zero to one effect, don’t bother conducting focus group or user research because you will only get one-sided resistance. As Henry Ford said, “if I have asked what people wanted, they would say faster horses.” Go with your gut.
  3. It would be hard to imagine that a major shift in UX design would come from a social media company instead of some experts in the UX field. I would even say News Feed was crucial for Facebook’s growth and retention of users. Most importantly, Facebook’s continuous challenge to the status quo that kept them ahead. Leave no stones unturned. Not even UX.

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