Quora: What Makes Facebook So Incredibly Good At Design? The Answer Might Surprise You.

And the answer is…Facebook isn’t good at it:

This is something I never considered, and she clarifies that people only find it useable because the value they get from using it is so high that they are willing to jump over a terrible barrier to use it, and it is so sticky so it’s one of those sites that can have terrible design that people still get used to and manage to learn via rote [like early LiveJournal, if anyone is familiar with that].

She says that she hears from nearly everyone she knows [who doesn’t work at Facebook] that the site is confusing and that it is impossible to find where anything is or how to do anything at all.  I do notice that in many cases I need to show her how to do things that many of us Facebook employees don’t think twice about.

So: this worries me on two fronts – that Quora’s design may be silently-failing shutting out an entire large demographic (my wife is typically muchmore representative of the average internet user than I am; I am pretty much a total freak), and that Facebook’s highly-opinionated, highly-insular design culture has perpetuated a site design philosophy that’s endemically confusing to not just a non-trivial segment of the population, but possibly a  majority of the internet-using population, and it’s been masked by the site’s utility and stickiness.

Does that make Facebook the world’s tallest midget?

Read on.

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