How We Changed the Facebook Friends Icon
Caitlin Winner

2017 and I enjoyed reading this article and your literary style, which with its many responses allow us to reflect on what you might improve in your design process were you to revisit this task now.

Certainly, you broke the Cardinal UX rule and designed, whether with selfless intention or not, for your own needs and not for those your users. And on distributing your design among colleagues, it is surprising no one questioned its UX authenticity and chose to adopt it as a new guide without evidence of ‘sign off’ (if I read that correctly? That’s not a reflection on you but on your environment and Facebook’s structure not following a 100% UX design workflow.

The missing link in your process is initial user research to support your hypothesis and then studies at checkpoints throughout iteration to prove the solution.

With a well recruited user cohort you may have identified the questions on equality across gender, sexuality, and ethnicity — not to mention grooming fashions and everything else between. To be equal, usable, and accessible is to be inclusive, after all. Whether that would have halted or improved your design is immaterial. The end point would be the right one.

Two years on and I am certain your learning account on this has been closed. I applaud your passion, tenacity, and humor, and on reflection I also equally applaud all those who have fed back both positively and negatively. Their insights paint a broad picture in support of user needs and acceptance testing across our digital teams. No one should work in a silo. No one can predict our users like our users can’t.

And wouldn’t this experience have been less hurtful if you had not broken that Cardinal rule? Be sure to share your learning account with those looking up to you. Through my own mistakes and omissions I have received a fantastic education. I am still learning.

Hopefully Helpfully,


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