This is an assignment for Viking Code School’s Web design class. I am spending quite a lot of time on this course because web design is challenging and scary for me and they’ve done a great job demystifying the subject. I’d recommend checking it out if you’re interested in web design.
It’s also part one of the final assignment in the web design prep course, which involves tearing down the the facebook application from a UX and Design perspective, then doing a mockup using Balsamiq.
- Who is the main user of Facebook?
- What are the top 3 critical goals for that user?
- What is the site’s approximate information architecture? (in general — don’t get caught up in the details too much)
- For your top user goal, what is likely to make the user’s experience particularly satisfying?
- To accomplish this goal, how does the user flow through the site’s architecture?
- What style(s) of navigation is/are used? Do they answer the two key questions (Where am I and how did I get here? Where should I go next and how do I get there?)?
- What did the site do well to allow the user to accomplish his goal effectively, efficiently and with good satisfaction?
- What does Facebook do poorly when allowing the user to accomplish the top goal effectively, efficiently and with good satisfaction?
A person in the United States with access to the internet. Facebook isn’t as popular in the rest of the world.
1. See interesting events in and information about friend’s, family, and acquaintance’ lives (posts).
2. Look at pictures of friends, family, and acquaintances (Facebook friends).
3. Communicate with others.
Extremely easy access to interesting information about the lives of your Facebook friends. Note that “interesting” is much harder to achieve, and very linked to, “easy”.
To accomplish this goal, how does the user flow through the site’s architecture? (ie. which pages are visited and what are clicked?)
When a user logs in they’re presented with their “Newsfeed” which is a list of photos/comments posted by Facebook friends which they can scroll through. Here’s an example of what one of these posts might look like
As you can see each post has at least two ways to look at (or interact with via messages) the person who posted it’s profile. You can also comment, like, and otherwise interact with posts. So, the flow generally goes Newsfeed to Profile/Post to Interact with posts/users.
There are three main types of navigation, the first and most important is the top bar, which you will always see when you’re on facebook. This bar gives you a “home” button (the facebook icon, search bar, and fast access to various other parts of the site. If the user gets stuck somewhere they know they can get “back to the start” by clicking the facebook icon.
The secondary navigation is NOT the left nav bar that exists at the start of the news feed, nor is it the configurable right hand “Chat” sidebar which I suspect most people simply keep turned off. The other navigation is pretty much clicking on profiles and posts. Since this is a fairly “flat” site (you’re looking at newsfeed, user, or post usually) there are no breadcrumb like navigation elements that I can find.
As I alluded to, the biggest thing that facebook does really really well to help users with their goal is put -interesting- content first. There is actually quite a lot of controversy about this because most people aren’t aware of just how much facebook messes with the order. However, making the top of the page the information that people are likely to read/interact with/be interested in is facebook’s number one goal and they’re really good at it.
They also make it really really easy to keep looking at content. The Newsfeed scrolls infinitely, when you reach the bottom it just adds more to the bottom. I actually don’t think it’s possible to get to the bottom. This is a great way for facebook to make sure that people see lots of interesting information and keeps people engaged with the site.
The final important thing that facebook allows users to do is “Hide” people/groups/posts from the Newsfeed. This allows people to tell facebook which things the don’t like and improve how interesting the content is.
Well, there’s quite a bit space that could be used for interesting content, but is consumed by ads instead as you might expect with a free service (they have to make money somehow). They also make a habit of messing with news feeds to see what people like better, which may make things less “interesting” in the short term, but perhaps better in the long term.