Technical limitations led Facebook to scrap its bold News Feed redesign
More than a year ago, Facebook unveiled plans for a drastic redesign of its website’s News Feed that would place a greater emphasis on pictures and look a lot more like the social network’s mobile app.
Ultimately, Facebook discarded that look and went with a less drastic redesign, and the reason for that decision was that many of the company’s users still have older computers and laptops, according to a blog post by Julie Zhuo, the social network’s product design director.
“While I (and maybe you as well) have sharp, stunning super high-resolution 27-inch monitors, many more people in the world do not,” she wrote. “Low-res, small screens are more common across the world.”
More users have smaller screens, and on those monitors, the planned redesign did not work well. In some instances, users couldn’t even see one full Facebook post on their screens without having to scroll. This meant that the planned redesign made using Facebook a worse experience for many.
“These people may not be early adopters or use the same hardware we do, but the quality of their experience matters just as much,” she wrote.
Zhuo explained Facebook’s decision following a blog post by Dustin Curtis, an entrepreneur. He wrote that the company decided to kill the bold redesign because it would have generated less ad revenue.
“It was performing so well from a design standpoint that users no longer felt the need to browse areas outside of the News Feed as often, so they were spending less time on the site,” Curtis wrote. “Unfortunately, this change in user behavior led to fewer advertisement impressions, which led, ultimately, to less revenue.”
Zhuo dismissed Curtis’ statements, saying that the planned redesign would have been better for revenue, but the company decided to go with the look that would improve user experience for all.
“This isn’t about short-term metrics versus long-term value. (The dangers of that I’ve articulated here). This is about designing something that works for the hundreds of millions of people who use the Facebook website every day, from all over the world, on all types of computers,” she wrote.