Whose design should we follow?
Amazon, Facebook, eBay, et. al. have bad websites from a design perspective (in my opinion), but are incredibly popular.
All these sites fulfil a lot of different user needs, and suffer a cluttered page as a result - with some tasks being difficult to achieve for the user.
Should we draw design inspiration from Facebook — because it’s a massively popular website? Is their design ‘correct’, as it is a design used by so many users?
I would argue that it’s design is no more valid than any other website — and that’s down to my thoughts that the reasons for it’s popularity are not due to it being well designed and easy to use. It’s success stems from sheer volume of signed up users and some killer features.
I have many issues with how difficult and painful using Facebook is, so I can’t agree to use Facebook as an exemplar in all cases.
I check my Facebook feed from time to time, maybe once a week - my user need is to find out what my friends have been up to. Often I check my feed because I know something is happening — a birthday or other event. When I check my feed I may see no mention of this and some random things highlighted from days / weeks ago. I don’t know how to find what I'm ‘missing’ without searching for specific friends’ pages. I might be inclined to check more regularly if this problem didn't occur.
While working on a website, the three line (burger) menu icon was suggested as a good way of allowing the user to open a menu in a mobile browser. The reasoning was that, “Facebook use it on their app”.
This is where we start to enter dangerous territory, if we blindly follow anything Facebook does. There are things that Facebook does very well, but copying anything a successful product does without question is a bad step to take.
Every design decision should be discussed on it’s own merits, rather than just because a large site uses it — this is the path to innovation rather than imitation.
There is so much inspiration to be found, that limiting our references to massive websites will limit the possibilities of new ideas.