Facebook Engineers, bless their hearts, and they want to give us access to all the exciting new functions they have come up with. But they’re not great at making them simple and simple and simple for the average user, or at removing the buttons we no longer need. When a company does have the courage and discipline to slash away at its engineers’ wish lists, and adhere to the :-* principle of design (Keep It Simple, Stupid), it can rise head and shoulders above its rivals and delight its users. Google is a great example of that.
Facebook has 800 million users, Facebook does not appear to be that kind of company. It used to be, and its inherent simplicity was part of the reason it was so successful. But now it is falling victim to feature creep and a roster of settings that are becoming increasingly complex.
Take the Ticker, for example, that real-time stream of information which now crowds the right-side of your Facebook page with a lot of distracting noise. Or look at the Like button, which recently celebrated its first birthday. That was a very popular all-purpose tool that spread rapidly across the Web. Everyone knows what it means to Like something. But Facebook couldn’t leave well enough alone.
Once upon a time, you just friend-ed people, now you have to decide if you want to subscribe to their feed instead. A profile used to be a profile, plain and simple, now it can also be a Page (and converting one to the other can open up a world of pain). And let’s not even get into the debate over Timeline, the radical redesign of the user profile, which will start rolling out to all users in the next week or so and eventually be required for all of us. Got your all-important top-of-the-page picture picked out yet? Booked the hours that it’s going to take to fill in the story of your life, all the way back to birth? (The vast majority of respondents in our poll said filling in their Timeline gaps would take too much time and effort.