The great thing about mocking up a website in Photoshop is the pixel perfection you achieve. An idealized version of a website manifested into spectacular glowing pixels that represents every minute detail your designer brain was able to dream up. The problem with mock-ups is that they aren’t real, and they’re immune to the influence of real life, to real users. This is one of the problems I see with Facebook’s beautiful new homepage redesign.
Yesterday, the social network debuted a brand new homepage touting “Goodbye Clutter” as their motto, and they certainly mean it. The homepage has been completely rethought and cleaned up, evolving the newsfeed into a crisp and clear timeline of activities. From a design and UI standpoint it’s near perfect. Perfect isn’t the only word I’d use though, I’d also describe the page as “idealized.”
To start, I think there are two glaring pieces that I think are missing from this: chaos and ads. When I say chaos I’m implying anything that a user may upload or create, be it photos, video, status updates, comments, etc. The idealized mock up there is missing the chaos that inhabits any social media site, the chaos that our lives create. You can’t control it, you can only try to create well laid out templates that will hopefully do a nice job of organizing it. There’s also no ads, which could be troublesome. Are they in the right sidebar or are there even more ads in the stream? I understand it’s a free service and it’s ad supported, but still, ads suck and no one likes them. I guess at this point we should consider ads as a part of the chaos. What they’re advertising is utopia, what you get is… still yet to be seen.
From a UX stand point I’m not sure if this design will be a success with “real people.” I have this theory that a lot of people don’t care about design, they just want a bunch of random shit to look at when they’re bored. Two great examples: Pinterest and Buzzfeed. No good designer would purposefully create such chaotic websites but damn are they popular, there’s no denying that. But I’d also describe them as a a designer worst nightmare.
What they have going for them is an intense density of information. I believe that this information density is exactly what real people want. They want distractions from whatever they’re supposed doing, not a clean design that’s been expertly crafted by the finest designers in the country. Now, I could totally be wrong about this because there’s one big exception to this rule: Tumblr. Tumblr, designed by Peter Vidani and his team, is controlled chaos at it’s finest. And what does this new Facebook iteration look an awful lot like? You got it, Tumblr.
I sincerely hope this redesign is successful. It’s extremely well designed and the interface has been stripped down to the bare essentials. Hopefully the experience of using it is just as lovely as the design itself. I’m on the waiting list (ugh, yes another stupid waiting list), so I guess I’ll see for myself soon enough.