Facebook Home – user feedback leads to usability rethink

10 May 2013
Ben Logan

Author: Ben Logan

Passionate about improving services and experiences for the people that use them.

Facebook to rethink Home’s usability

Users of the world unite! Earlier this week, we heard that Microsoft was to improve Windows 8’s usability through a series of updates (based on users’ feedback) and now it is Facebook’s turn.  Less than a month after its official launch, Facebook have announced that complaints about Home’s usability will result in their releasing updates to address users’ concerns.

User feedback on Facebook Home usability

Thousands of users have been leaving none-too-complimentary reviews on Google Play, letting Facebook know exactly what they think of Home.  With an average rating of just 2.2 out of 5 stars, over 50% of the 16,000 user reviews have given Facebook Home just 1 star.

User feedback of that kind would cause any organisation to worry – and to their credit, Facebook are listening.  In fact, Facebook’s director of product, Adam Mosseri, has said that he’s read over 2,000 of the user reviews.

Usability issues with Facebook Home

The main usability complaints with Home appear to be that it is slow, difficult to navigate and makes it too hard for users to access previously-downloaded apps.  Over the coming months, Facebook have announced that they will be issuing Home updates to try and address these usability issues and improve its user experience.  These usability updates will include increased prominence (and ease of access) for some previously-downloaded apps and an improved tutorial function.

Windows 8 and Facebook Home – what they tell us about users and usability

Both Windows 8 and Facebook Home introduced a radically new experience to an environment with which users were familiar and comfortable (the Windows operating system and the Android phone interface, respectively).  As such, it is unsurprising that users experienced a little disorientation and that their initial reactions were not wholly positive – usability studies have shown that most people are likely to see this kind of change as irritating and inconvenient.

That does not, however, mean that companies should not innovate.  Rather, it means that they should innovate on the basis of rigorous and extensive usability testing.  Both companies are doing the right thing by listening to their audience and accepting their usability feedback.

We would, however, suggest that both Microsoft and Facebook consider whether more of this usability input could have been sought up-front (through laboratory or diary-based usability studies, for example) rather than post-launch.

 

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