2.09.2013 | Hey Facebook, a couple of beefs

Facebook is a wonderful product. Simple in design, clean despite its complexity. Mark Zuckerberg claims to have been mentored by Steve Jobs, and generally it shows.

However, as the Book's functionality has expanded, there are a couple of areas where the user experience is starting to depart from the pleasant, particularly as it relates to layering information on top of posts—locations, and links to other profiles. To be fair, these are somewhat advanced features that most people may never use. But! The latter has been changed so as to be shoved in users' faces, with some unhappy side effects.

Note:


Simply awful. I got here just by having the word "Apple" at the end of my post (a similar problem exists with "San Francisco"). This blocks the "post" button, meaning I have to revert to a decades-old UI prinicple from DOS, the Escape key, to get at the main action intended for my post. Extremely counter-intuitive. If I press "tab," my default action since I like to use my keyboard, my intended word is replaced with one I didn't want—worse than iPhone AutoCorrect!

At the very least, you could decrease the width to leave the action button visible, or provide a close button to dismiss the thing. But, let's be fair and assume I did want to link to a business: a location button to filter by location would be a welcome improvement! Case in point (when adding a location to my post, an entirely voluntary action):

 

I don't live anywhere near these places. FedEx Office (formerly Kinko's) is a pretty well-known and ubiquitous chain. Why isn't the list more specific to my current location, obtainable via HTML5, or at the very least, relevant to the location I put as my home on my Facebook profile itself? What if there were a way to expand my search results and let me find the right one if all else failed?

Locational relevance is a worthy goal, and there may be room to create an automatically activated feature that exploits that well. But until then, for profile links, a relatively simple affair, let's get back to basics: discoverable functionality, out of the way unless you need it … putting an ideal user experience first, and access to cool but powerful stuff second. That was what Apple did. Facebook needs to return to that by requiring the "@" symbol to insert a link to a friend's (or business's) profile, as it was when the feature was first introduced.

Get your act together, Menlo Park! Maybe all that delicious Philz Coffee has you in a daze.

Update: Hmm … lest I be too critical of Facebook, it looks like Twitter has a similar problem (though less intrusive):

 

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