Everyone has been freaking out today (seriously) about the new Mini-Feed feature on Facebook… so much so that less than 24 hours after the release, the Facebook staff had to write a retraction to try and compensate for all of the bad feedback they were getting.

I’d like to go on my soap box for just a moment. When I was getting ready to go to CMU to get my Masters degree in Human-Computer Interaction, my uncle told me that he didn’t see the need for the field, saying it was “obvious.” I heard the same sentiment from a developer at Microsoft when I first dropped off my resume last September.

This is why usability is not obvious. If you don’t take time to study what people actually want in a product, it will come back to bite you in the ass! And people will complain! And the feature you rolled out with glamour and glitz in the morning will be the feature you’re apologizing for later that night!

The worst part of it, though, has to be the nice little message that I saw on my profile today:

The message on my Facebook profile explaining the new News Feed feature,  with one button that says Awesome!

I’m sorry… Awesome? That’s my only choice? “Awesome?” Not “Bullshit!” or “What the hell were you thinking?” or “You’re kidding, right?” Aside from the fact that there’s a basic usability problem of not providing an option in cases like this… Awesome was just such a bad word to choose. (To quote Rob Corddry) I mean, COME ON!

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The conversation continues...

  1. On September 5th, 2006 at 11:48 pm, zsz said:

    Sorry… the first two links are just Facebook groups people have made to rebel against the new feature. The first one has 500+ members, the second has 2,200+ members as of right now.

  2. On September 7th, 2006 at 7:58 pm, Liz (random reader of your blog) said:

    And the biggest anti-feed group has over 700,000 members. Do you think if we started a group about AIDS awareness or stopping world hunger we’d get that many people in 2.5 days? I doubt it.

  3. On September 7th, 2006 at 11:01 pm, zsz said:

    Kinda sad…

  4. On September 8th, 2006 at 9:32 am, Steve said:

    I’ll still pay you that $25…

  5. On September 10th, 2006 at 1:49 am, Jenn said:

    Unfortunately, the groups that really do the most change are where the directly affected are the main proponents of the group.

    But now that a bad design is released, there are potential effects. Is it really ok to remove it? How do you let people know about the feed? What effects will the privacy settings have for plausible deniablity now that people are aware of it? Will people use the settings because now it’s too obvious that you are hiding something (sort of like the way we react when we get a phone call from a blocked caller id)? Do people have anything to hide? Just too much to think about, which should have been done prior to this feature being released.

What do you think?