Sunday, October 5, 2008

Facebook Managing Change As If They Didn’t Have Addicted Users

Every web company out there wants to be at the same point on the customer adoption curve as Facebook is. Facebook has moved from stalled adoption, past rapid adoption to addicted users. Recently, there has been backlash from millions of those addicted users from their latest redesign. 

There is a lot of debate about the Facebook redesign online. Check out IXDA's discussion. My observation is not on the interface level, but on the overall approach Facebook took on this redesign. On the surface, they chose a rationale method and seemed very inclusive of their users. They prepared them in advance and asked for feedback along the way. It seems to me that where they may have missed a beat was they treated this redesign as if they weren't so far along in the customer adoption curve. 

During the stalled phase of customer adoption you can make major changes to a product without much fear. There is an abundance of care you must use when your user base expands beyond nine figures. So where did Facebook go wrong? It seems as if they elicited feedback, but didn't properly filter the correct themes from it. Also, they could have gone into this redesign without the inclusion of this feedback in the product lifecycle. Who knows, but clearly they missed something here. 

It's important to remember that whenever you have addicted users you will always have people that resist change. They will have negative feedback from them even if it is in their best interest to change. You can't stand still in business in general, but it's even more important to innovate online. This is the fine line Facebook needs to walk in order to stay on top. Don't be afraid to innovate, but truly understand your customers and be prepared for including findings when you do. 

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