Friday, September 15, 2006

The Facebook Controversy: A Lesson About Embraceable Change

Preparing users for UI changes ...

"This has got to be a designer’s worst nightmare: reading in the New York Times how hundreds of thousands of users are signing petitions for your new features to be removed. That’s exactly what happened to the designers at Facebook last week.

A ton has already been written about the privacy aspects of this, so I’m not going to touch on that in this post. If you somehow missed all this controversy, I suggest you read this excellent discussion of the privacy implications by Danah Boyd and MoBuzz’s 4 minute YouTube video. Then you’ll know all there is to know about the privacy perspective.

What I’m interested is, as designers, what we’re going to learn from all this, with regards to how we design for change.

... Facebook added a new feature without doing any work to prepare their users for the change. One day, they logged in and the world was different. Not better, just different. It seems the Facebook design team felt it was much improved, but that feels like it was the result of groupthink, not an actual assessment of the people who mattered: the users.

The lack of preparation for change is not a new problem. I talked about it 18 months ago when I wrote the article Designing Embraceable Change. We knew back then you don’t just have to design the change, you have to design the process of introducing the change and ensuring it’s embraced by the users.

While the Facebook controversy isn’t signalling a new type of problem, it is telling us the ramifications of when we get it wrong. Design changes are like organ implants — the host can reject the new organ and bad things happen. Facebook found itself in damage-control mode : “Calm down. Breathe. We hear you.” (from the blog entry by the CEO)."   (Continued via Brain Sparks)    [Usability Resources]

Updating Without Preparation - Usability, User Interface Design

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