Facebook’s index page is very simple: it gives the user a description of what Facebook is (“Connect with friends and the world around you…”) and allows them to either login or create an account. Once a user logs in, the user will be on their personal Facebook page. According to Strickland (2007) :
The basic homepage layout includes a news feed that keeps you updated about what your friends and networks are up to. There’s also a status update section, which contains notices about messages you’ve received, invitations to events, notices about applications your friends would like you to try and a place where you can tell people how you’re feeling or what you’re up to.
The news feed is unique to each user. According to Facebook, they rank stories based on the criteria in the chart.
You can view a video explaining in detail how the Facebook newsfeed works here: https://newsroom.fb.com/news/2018/05/inside-feed-news-feed-ranking/.
Once logged in, the overall look is a reflection of Facebook’s index page mission statement: “Connect with Friends”. The most popular interactions appear first in the newsfeed, along with groups, events and “liked” pages. There are also targeted ads. The infinite scroll makes it easy (and addictive) to stay on the site for long periods of time.
Twitter, like Facebook, uses a simple index page interface. Twitter describes itself as a place where you:
- Follow your interests.
- Hear what people are talking about.
- Join the conversation
A user then has the option to log in to their account or create one. But what is Twitter? According to Wired:
Twitter is where news is broken, links are shared, and memes are born. It’s also a place for chatting with friends. Yet unlike Facebook, Twitter is public by default.
Anyone who has an account can see everyone else’s public “tweets”, regardless of personal relationship. The main feed refreshes constantly with new tweets and trending topics from the Twitter community.
Though the color scheme of Twitter reminds the user of Facebook, the similarities end there. The homepage reflects the interests of the user, with new tweets every time a user refreshes the page. The more you scroll down, the older the tweets become. You can view your own feed or search based on hash tagged trending topics or particular interests. A user can follow other users and topics that’s relevant to them. You can even see topics that are trending near you.
Facebook and Twitter are both social networks. Facebook is about connecting the user to their circle of friends and family so their layout is focused on those connections. You don’t see outside of your circle. Twitter is a public forum, though a user can refine their feed based on who they follow. You can see anyone who’s “tweeting”, reply and/or share their “news”. You can interact directly to anyone with a public Twitter profile. The design of Twitter’s interface reflects this openness concept.
Facebook and Twitter get a lot of things right. I found it difficult to complete this assignment because while I was trying to assess the sites, I ended up using the sites. That means both are designed very well: to keep the user engaged and on the platform.
What needs improving on Facebook and Twitter:
- A better filter for erroneous content – I’m tired of being the debunker. I ended up just unfriending/unfollowing users who constantly spread misinformation, juice cleanses, CBD cures, MLM’s, anti-vax and other nonsense.
- Highlight paid content better – Marketers are getting better at masking their content to seem like they’re legitimate news, when in fact they’re just trying to sell you something.
News Feed Ranking in Three Minutes Flat. (n.d.). Retrieved October 2, 2019, from https://newsroom.fb.com/news/2018/05/inside-feed-news-feed-ranking/.
Staff, W. I. R. E. D. (2018, November 20). How to Use Twitter: Critical Tips for New Users. Retrieved October 2, 2019, from https://www.wired.com/story/how-to-setup-twitter-search-hashtag-and-login-help/.
Strickland, J. (2007, December 10). How Facebook Works. Retrieved October 2, 2019, from https://computer.howstuffworks.com/internet/social-networking/networks/facebook1.htm.