By Dan Marley
Senior Research Consultant
Facebook may be a phenomenon but it’s by no means perfect!
The first thing that should be noted is that Facebook was originally opened for students and therefore designed for students. However, as the website was opened to the public a few years ago the breadth of its users has greatly increased, but has the design?
The first thing that is apparent from the website is the multiple avenues of navigation, including:
- Primary navigation – containing, ‘Home’, ‘Profile’ and ‘Friends’ and ‘Inbox’ at the top of the page.
- Application navigation – which can contain various items such as ‘Photos’ and ‘Events’ at the foot of the page.
- Homepage filter options – these control what you want to see on your homepage, e.g ‘News Feed’, ‘Status Updates’, ‘Photos’ etc.
- Right column – it can contain various items such as:
o ‘Connect with friends’
The inclusion of all these access points spread across the height and width of the page leads to an unfocused navigational structure. Users are pushed into an unconventional, obscure way of navigating around the site to locate different tools. The prime example of this is the location of ‘Events’ within the application navigation (foot of the page), when surely this is more suited to being in the primary navigation alongside your ‘Inbox’.
Cleaning up the information architecture to provide a more focused navigational structure would help to move the site closer to where it should be at the moment. However, what about progressing further? As the leading social networking site shouldn’t Facebook be more innovative?
Users have varying uses for the site; the minimal users will only be interested in keeping in touch with specific friends and viewing photos on an occasional basis, whilst others will visit the site several times a day posting comments, uploading photos and playing games, e.g. ‘farmville’. The prospect of designing a site in order to cater for the basic users and the ‘pokers’ is not going to be achievable without some customisation.
The BBC website has done a very good job of providing users the opportunity to customise the homepage to display what they want to see, and exactly where they want to see it. It seems apparent that Facebook is more in need of this functionality than most sites due to its wide segmentation.
Providing a clearer navigational structure and ability to fully customise individual Facebook accounts, especially the homepage, will enable users to have their own Facebook and not one that tries, and fails to cater for all.
Whilst the application and touch sites are forced to be more simplistic due to retail space constraints, there is much the website version can learn from this straight-forward approach.