- Facebook is slow. I can't believe how often I sit there waiting on a page to load. There's a statistic for Web design: if it takes more than ten seconds for the page to load, people will give up and load a different page. I don't know if Facebook has hit that threshold yet, but they certainly do try my patience.
- Facebook is accident-prone. I see error messages on Facebook almost every day. Ever see the cryptic and inexplicable "Profile Unavailable - Sorry, this profile is not available at the moment. Please try again shortly"? How about the even more cryptic "Database Write Failed - An error occurred while writing to our database. Please try again later or contact customer support"? And those are only two of what seems like a multitude of cryptic, unhelpful, and downright scary error messages that come up right in the users' faces. Users shouldn't see error messages consistently like we do on Facebook... the problems can, and should, be fixed. This is a BUSINESS site, for crying out loud. An error on my hobby site I do for free is one thing; somebody is presumably getting PAID to keep this stuff working. Even worse: sometimes users post something and it never shows up on the site at all. For no apparent reason. With no error message. They just never appear.
- Facebook is hard to configure. There are some things about your profile that you can control, and other things that you can't. In the left-hand column, for example, there are certain things that you can add, using apps designed to do that. However, as far as I can tell, it's always GOT to be your profile picture on top, then "Information", then "Friends", and THEN whatever else you want on there. What if I want my Flickr pictures up under "Information"? Can't do it. And even things that you can configure sometimes have hidden gotchas. For example: ever notice that on your "Info" page you can list things like favorite TV shows, music, etc. and it will automatically create a link to other people with that same interest? Except if there happens to be a comma in whatever you put in there, in which case the links are all jacked up. Or if you put something like "The Beatles, Eric Clapton, & etc." in which case you will get a link to everyone else who also enjoys listening to "& etc."
How about this: I've put in a bunch of email addresses that I use, so that if someone searches for my work email address they'll be able to find me, but really I only want people to contact me at my Gmail address. Can I "hide" the other addresses on my info page so people don't try to contact me at those? Apparently not. Same thing with my work history... I don't think anyone really wants to know everywhere I've worked since 1994, but I do want all of those people to be able to find me if they're looking.
- Facebook is hard to use. There are still things that I know good and well I can do on Facebook but can't find them when I need them. Case in point: find someone on your "Home" page whose updates you can do without in your newsfeed. Hover your mouse cursor over one of their posts until you see the "Hide" link. Click "Hide" and all of their posts should disappear from your news feed.
Now, un-hide them so they show up in your feed again. See if you can figure out how to do it without using Google. I couldn't!
Here's another example: in the "Inbox" area where you can send private messages to people, you can actually send one "private" message with multiple recipients. Problem is, when any of those recipients replies "normally" to the message (the blue button at the bottom of the screen, which says "Reply All"), the reply goes to everyone on the original distribution list! It is possible to "branch" off the "original thread" and reply to only the sender. See if you can figure out how to do it. It's right there in front of you, if you're looking! But it's FAR from obvious.
One more quick example: ever try to quit being a "fan" of something and remove it from your "Pages" list? Try it. I dare ya. It's easy to do... it's just impossible to figure out HOW to do it. An application has failed to be user-friendly if obvious tasks like this are hard to accomplish without a lot of concentration (and occasionally, a search engine).
- Most apps are a menace. To use them you have to basically agree to let them read your mail, carry your checkbook in their purse when they go shopping, and take naked pictures of you as you sleep, but most of the apps have no need of the information they request. Even worse, some of the apps are what I would consider viral. I don't mind "verifying" that I was your classmate in school or that I'm your third cousin or whatever, but I don't want to give the "tru 2 ur skool" and "hiya, cuz!" apps permission to read all of my friends' names and check their medical records for evidence that they have embarrassing diseases. But apparently even to courteously say "yes, I went to school with Fred", I have to also become a user of whatever jacked-up Facebook app that Fred is trying out (and will ultimately decide that he doesn't even like). Plus, a good portion of the apps are just plain slow (which brings us full circle to my first point).
- A new one since I posted this article on Facebook itself: major changes to the interface without any warning. Well, that's not entirely true; if you follow the Facebook blog you'll basically know what's going on. So, how about putting that blog on the login page, linking to it from the user's home page, SOMETHING like that? I didn't even think there was a Facebook blog until I Googled it. Did you? At any rate, major changes to the interface (like the one that happened last week) need to be announced in a way that users will know what's going on. The users don't like it... as evidenced groups called things like "bring back the old news feed" that pop up every time they roll out a new feed.
8 months ago