Yet again Facebook has made changes to its layout. And yet again, millions of users will have to relearn how to use their profiles. Even though the changes may be a tad annoying at first, we have to remember that without the constant improvements Facebook would still look like this:
The UI has definitely come a long way since then! And I think it’s safe to say that without the improvements Facebook wouldn’t be as popular is it is today. Even so, Facebook has always introduced features with the attitude of “launch first, deal with public relations later”. It’s definitely not a safe method but how do you determine the best way to launch a product in a market that you created? From another perspective, these improvements keep competitors at bay, who would otherwise love the opportunity to grab the market share with newer, sleeker features (just as Facebook stole the Myspace crowd).
Business aspects aside, there is another reason why I can’t complain. With each feature Facebook introduces, it defines a new way for us to interact with our friends. We could think of Facebook as digital social experiment. A good example is the “Like” button. When this was introduced, it became so wildly popular that now when we post our photos and status updates we actually anticipate getting “Likes”.
And that’s not all. Facebook changes the way we behave in many other ways. Think about it. Do you find yourself taking pictures specifically for Facebook? Do you have a thought during the day and think to yourself “I should share this on Facebook later”? Have you rekindled a friendship with someone you haven’t seen in 10 years after friending them on Facebook? Have you gossiped about the recent news of a break up you found out about on Facebook? All of these behaviors wouldn’t be possible without Facebook pushing the boundaries of social sharing.
They’ve done such a good job, that advertisers want you to “Like” their brands, “unfriend” is a term in the New Oxford American Dictionary, and even Google is trying to tap into the social market with Google+. And let’s keep it real, Facebook has over 800 million users that average 14 minutes per day on the site. That’s impressive.
So while the new features can be uncomfortable at first, I think it’s incredible that we get to witness the growth of a market that never existed before. We get to be a part of this social experiment that Facebook pioneered and others try to mimic. And with the new Timeline layout soon to be introduced publicly, we yet again get to explore a new way to interact with friends online. For this, I have to give Facebook a little credit and keep the complaining down to a minimum!