The unheralded success of Facebook – the UI

[draft] More than enough commentators have pointed out the success of community cross-referencing in today’s new town square, Facebook. There is little more to add to the argument that Facebook, Google Ad Sense, Wikipedia and the whole citizen contributor-driven nature of web 2-point-something is where it’s at. A given.

What is missing in the mainstream discussion – and rightly so because I sometimes live in a world of people called Information Architects, or geeks – is how this proto-modern successful user interface, or UI, is so 10 years ago.

Because, dear reader, it works. It’s natural. It’s been done before.

A successful website UI is one that appeals to all, the Lowest Common Denominator – or that’s what we used to call in math.

When I see the numbers of adopters of the Facebook model – a tied down, non-anarchic, hat-and-left-navigation interface model for a smaller screen size – I see maximum accessibility.

It may be totalitarian in its stringent screen boundaries, but let’s get a handle on what we are doing here.

Communicating. In the same language. Best via the same interface, same navigation, same language.

MySpace is rotten – sorry, that’s a bit harsh, let’s call it “niche” – because it allows anyone the opportunity to go very hard on every aspect of the UI, even if they don’t know how that appeals to others.

A common point of conflict is when music plays immediately at you when you visit a website address. This is more common than not on MySpace, as well as the choosing of outrageous ‘skins’ that make the whole communication thing completely useless.

MySpace, for this very fact, has no in-built gatekeeper – you suffer the try-hard designer and either love or hate them. There’s your niche. And honestly, you’re welcome to it.

Facebook’s success, then, is the same as Hotmail’s, and Yahoo’s, and any software application’s success over the past 15 years – common ease of use. Common, undeniable laws that do not change so the Luddites can get it.