In the case of making an airplane fly, the goals are simple — stay aloft, go faster, use less fuel — and design changes can be rigorously tested against the desired outcome. There are many analogous problems in search — finding the best price, or the most authoritative source of information on a topic , or a particular document— and many that are far less rigorous. And when users get right to what they want, the users are happy, and so, generally, are advertisers. Unfortunately, unlike search, where the desires of the users to find an answer and get on with their lives are generally aligned with “give them the best results”, Facebook’s prioritization of “engagement” may be leading them in the wrong direction. What is best for Facebook’s revenue may not be best for users.
We stared right at that pothole. And then we fell right in and did all the things we knew we shouldn’t do. We did UX (user experience) studies, but got pulled in too many directions from all our users. We tried to be too many things to too many people. We started coding, but got consumed with perfecting our engineering architecture instead of building the user interface. We set ambitious goals that were entirely unrealistic considering our resources.