Facebook | Casestudy

There is a sharp decline in user engagement for Gen Z and younger Millennials w.r.t Facebook Mobile. Describe a few approaches that you can take in terms of product direction, strategy or a feature that will help arrest this decline. 

 

From the Surface , it looks like younger people are moving towards other applications to quench their thirst for social interaction, Like instagram and Snapchat. . Its basic layout, easy-to-use interface, and focus on photos rather than statuses and comments make it the perfect alternative for young people sick of the cluttered, troll-filled wasteland of Facebook. The aim is to create a mobile-first social content solution that resonates with GenZ and Younger Millennials.

 

Please note, this is a self-initiated project. It was done for the love of design, and in the interests of self-discovery, learning. This project helped me streamline a process and understand the nuances of experience design.

For

Self Initiated Project

Timeline

1 Months ( Nov 2018 )

Responsibilities

User Research, User Flows, IA, Feature Exploration

Role

UX Designer

Game Plan

Through constructive research and analysis, the core of the problem is identified. A project direction (or) Strategy (or) A new Feature is introduced to the existing product , to arrest this decline. 

 

Following are the approaches taken to formulate this case study :

User Research through In person discussion and online responses.

Identifying Patterns in Competitor Applications.

Diving deep into the Facebook design , to figure out if they have Addressed these problems.

Identifying Issues according to order of importance.

Breaking down Data into simple use cases and stories.

Constructive Solutions to not lose active users and gain more attention from passive users 

User Research

You interact with your users to build the unique combination of structure, content and user experience that will accomplish required goals in efficient ways.

Survey Protocol

The first step was to learn how and why are users moving away from facebook to other competing platforms (or) not. With a small window to conduct user research, following compound strategy was employed. Open Table discussion with selected target users, from where basic question for the survey was formed extending to the participants’ social circles through google form. The Participants were carefully chosen to include people from different age brackets. The topic of discussion was “How is your engagement with Facebook”

User Responses

The Google Form was distributed through the Participants’ extended networks; the rationale being that an interviewee’s social circles largely comprises people with similar character traits, thus possessing similar values. Total number of responses received over a period of 4 days was 128. 

Analysis

The Final question was intentionally left open ended  “ Any change or feature that you would want in facebook which you might find useful ? ” The nature of this question did not expect any specific answers from the users. more than 25% did not answer this, because it is too much work to think. 

 

But the other 75% answers were surprising. It gave insights into how different users use facebook currently. More perspective into the problem. Facebook is one of the most popular apps out there , and lots and lots of people like it. People are not coming to see just what their friends are doing , but to get news , follow restaurants , follow athletes and celebrities. It is here and there. 

Implementing an end-to-end digitised cafeteria solution means a plethora of benefits for an organisation

and its employees. This can be a problem solver on counts like. Following are few of the most interesting responses :

Make it more personal , i dont want to see what other people are sharing. Quick and easy features - no tapping.

Sending large files easier and focusing on video calls.

Too many unwanted posts in news feed, want filters. Want to see if news is fake or not.

I dont want facebook to be snapchat, want to see who viewed my profile.

Content i see on fb is crap , want it to be regulated and categorised.

Controlling my notifications and i want a time meter.

Stop giving unnecessary notifications, using my browser cache to display ads.

More open ended options for creators on facebook like instagram / snapchat.

Takeaways

Newsfeed Effect : Shared Content

Come feedback from users is that they are tired of memes, shares and content overload in facebook. The older generation was interested in forwarding messages , sharing content but this current generation focuses more on creating content. They are missing out on updates from the pages they like by getting tired of the posts shared by their friends. Overlaid by its fake news and negativity.

Facebook is for Old People

Facebook has become a social network that's often too complicated, too risky, and, above all, too overrun by parents to give teens the type of digital freedom they crave. Facebook ties them into a fixed self. Facebook insists on real names and links different areas of a person’s life, carrying over from school to university to work. This arguably restricts the freedom to explore new identities – one of the key benefits of the web. facebook needs  time and investment , whereas its competitors provide instant gratification.

More than just “ Connecting People ”

When facebook was launched in 2004 , its motto was “ connects people through social networks at colleges ”. Currently it boasts of a population equal to china. Each user has created their own usecase in the application. It cannot be narrowed down into one single USP. There are groups and communities , events which are in forefront currently. Enterprises and Brands have grown because of facebook. Facebook has re-instilled visual language as an important trait among everyone.

The Interface Issue

Unlike Instagram / Snapchat , facebook was not an app made for mobile user ( where most of demographic relies on ) . It has tried to adapt its desktop interface into mobile sector, which is backfiring currently. User “ Newsfeed is a bit of a mess. Especially on my phone while digging through updates from friends news sites and ads , just isn’t that fun anymore ”

Competitor Analysis

A dive into the existing solutions , understanding its success and Opportunities to help the application create a better experience

Facebook

Facebook is a popular free social networking website that allows registered users to create profiles, upload photos and video, send messages and keep in touch with friends, family and colleagues.

Instagram

Instagram is an online photo sharing service. It allows you to apply different types of photo filters to your pictures with a single click, then share them with others. While is a rather basic service, Instagram's simplicity has helped it gain widespread popularity.  Its basic layout, easy-to-use interface, and focus on photos rather than statuses and comments .

Snapchat

Snapchat is primarily used for creating multimedia messages referred to as "snaps"; snaps can consist of a photo or a short video, and can be edited to include filters and effects, text captions, and drawings. Users control the experience, disappearing photo and video messages - gesture control.

Analysis

Takeaways

Visual Content Over Text

Insta and Snap have found success with this demographic since they are more aligned with how they communicate - that is, using visual content. Outside of those who have already left, teens and tweens remaining on Facebook seem to be less engaged-logging in less frequently and spending less time on the platform."

Ease of Creation 

Facebook is unable to let go of its status / posting images format and is stuck inbetween a desktop navigation and mobile navigations. Instagram and snapchat main navigation bar consists of posting a photo / video - that is their primary USP. Facebook main navigation bar has  different sections to consume content from the page they have liked or their friends activity.

Noisy and Packed - are shares the reason ?

Another important difference you notice between these application in first look is how crowded facebook is. It can do alot of things and its doing everything in very small real estate.

 

Sharing system works differently with fb and other platforms. Fb rearranges the furniture at your house whereas insta / snapchat  create another room to view shared content. It does affect your primary feed

Motto says it all

Facebook motto concentrates on creating a community , whereas instagram and snapchat focus on moments. This not rocket science to understand why facebook is losing its popularity among younger generations.

Literature Study

A straightforward, accessible research on users and the product through articles , research papers and thesis. Insights about the product and target user and aim is to use such information in the application for a better experience

Facebook responds

Before i could go ahead and work on user scenarios and stories , i wanted to make sure if facebook had worked on these problems faced by users. Ranging from cluttered interface , Mobile friendly app , verified news , ability control what you see, restricting unwanted notifications, cutting down redundant posts to increased privacy. Facebook’s Changes to newsfeed rolled out last year , addressing concerns like Improving readability on News Feed, making content more engaging and immersive, distinguish key areas of content.

Below you see is a feature rolled out this year, to bring more trust and Give Context to News Stories. To give control to user the tools to make informed decisions about which stories to read, trust, and share.

To keep oneself away from the amount of shares and trolls , facebook introduced preferences in newsfeed to give the control to the user, and let them choose what they see. This feature rolled out a few months ago. After some pretty bad publicity surrounding the issue, Facebook took measures to reduce garbage content on its platform. It introduced algorithms that could detect headlines that contained commonly used phrases in clickbait headlines (such as “like or comment” or “you won’t believe what happened next”) Facebook’s response for privacy and giving more control to user by letting them control the no of friends requests , simplifying who their posts are visible to , limiting users from seeing your pictures. More secured and private.

To keep oneself away from the amount of shares and trolls , facebook introduced preferences in newsfeed to give the control to the user, and let them choose what they see. This feature rolled out a few months ago. After some pretty bad publicity surrounding the issue, Facebook took measures to reduce garbage content on its platform. It introduced algorithms that could detect headlines that contained commonly used phrases in clickbait headlines (such as “like or comment” or “you won’t believe what happened next”) Facebook’s response for privacy and giving more control to user by letting them control the no of friends requests , simplifying who their posts are visible to , limiting users from seeing your pictures. More secured and private.

So Facebook is rolling out new features in the coming weeks to help people manage their time on these apps. They include:

 

• An activity dashboard that shows how long you're spending on Facebook or Instagram.

• A daily reminder for when you're hitting your total time for the day.

• A way to tune out notifications.

 

it will allow you to control your tool bars , you can choose if you want the videos or marketplace , replace with events and community. 

Takeaways

No one is Noticing the changes

It is pretty obvious from research that facebook is listening to its consumers and making changes consistently to make it a between experience for the user.

 

It has to be followed up with a bigger question . “ Why isnt maximum of the users aware of these changes ? ” People are not embracing these changes and end up complaining about facebook.

 

It shouldn’t be people’s problem to manage the settings if they don’t want to. The settings should just exist in the right state for the experience they desire.

 

I view it as a design failure if we have to send someone to a settings page. That is putting the responsibility on the person using the service to fix the problem. The settings should be coming to you when you need them.

Facebook Paper

An IOS App that was released 3 years ago and shut down last year , was the mobile application fb wanted to make but it didnt do it soon enough. 

 

Paper which splits into a new standalone app , is part newsfeed and part news paper.

 

Newsfeed is updated and clean. Made for phone – more of gestures and less of taps. It does make normal friends pictures anymore intersting. But it does add more sections in it , and let the users select, blends twitter , flipboard and rss.  It isnt exactly a part of facebook ecosystem of app , though it includes notifications , friends requests and messenger. It also has a timeline view .

 

This was new and adaptable for younger users , but facebook was not ready to push these changes to its 100million users main application. A few of its interesting features were added to its main application from paper last year. 

 

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Fk6IFi3O0Kc

The mindset of Gen Z

Z'ers having grown up with a smartphone has led them to expect information and entertainment on-demand, instantly, and in phone-sized bites. Facebook, Instagram, video games, and YouTube. That’s part of why they flock to social media sites like Secret, Whisper, and Snapchat, where you can post text, images, or video anonymously and delete them at will. 

 

Tweens and teens are addicted to the idea of eliciting more reactions in the form of likes, followers, and comment. They employ like-for-like photo tactics, use a myriad of hashtags to get their pictures in front of more users, and promote their desire for additional followers in their profiles.

 

Gen Z, also are more concerned with consuming content on social media rather than sharing, which is how previous generations have made use of the largest social network.

Snapchat

The ephemeral nature of Snapchat is a big draw for teens. So, too, is the ability to communicate one on one or in smaller groups. Teens have had warnings drilled into them that one wrong move on Facebook could hurt their chances of getting into college or landing a job so they like the ability to be more selective about what they share and with whom.

 

Teens are still in their exploratory phase, but for parents, they’re done exploring.  When you’re an adult, you don’t have as many peers, and you don’t have any reason to learn new tools to find friends , you are past knowing new people.

Instagram

Many Gen Zers also use Instagram as a way of curating the image of themselves that they project to the world and getting positive reinforcement of that image. Because of this, they are very picky about the content, types of images, and even the time of day they post.

Takeaways

Engaging

Gen Z consume a lot of content . They dont owe it to you, they are not worried about the effort that has gone into the application. If it fails its purpose , they immediately have another application to try out. make it engaging.

Influencer

Social media Influencers are a thing now. These influencers are mostly from Gen Z Bracket apart from celebrities.  Social media creations have made way for many careers in the field of art , design , modelling , photography , film. 

Video Culture

Generation Z likes video content. Entertaining videos will be watched for their own sake. They prefer to converse in gif and images, soon it is going to be videos , later virtual world.  Are you not seeing the pattern ?

Quick, with intuitive design 

Your platform must load quickly, have elegant design, and ease of use. If you are debating including an extra feature that will require two more clicks and thirty more seconds of user work, you are probably better off leaving it out.

User Persona

Based on the takeaways and literature study , the issues are broken down into simple narratives as user personas. To add more context to the problem , thereby arriving on solutions

Proposed Solutions

Taking the User stories and catering to their needs , having in mind the researched data.

Wireframes

Landing Page

The landing page which has always been the news feed is not changed to a page that is dedicated to creation and stories. 

 

User can update status , post photo / video , add and watch stories .

News Feed

News feed is altered into various sections and categories ,trending sections comes forward in line. The feed preferences are now visible to the user and can be filtered according to his/her taste.

 

Information icon is changed to square , which rotates as the user scrolls down. To attract attention

FaceBook Watch

A new Feature is added to the watch section , where the user will be able to add friends to the videos he is watching , or join his friends.

 

Live matches and movies can be watched, they will be connected via voice chat. Reminiscent of the times when matches were watched while connected through landline.

Events and Planning

The flow of planning from the current events page has been explained via wireframes. The user is prompted to plan with his friends , when he is interested or going to an event. He can invite friends to his plan , where they can discuss about various scenes reg the event.

 

The user can also create private plans like trip to goa , and discuss via facebook. They can share videos and links from facebook or other sites. Conduct Polls. Be informed through facebook calendar.

Viewers

This has been long awaited feature from the users , there must be some important reason why facebook hsant added this feature.

 

This feature can attract engagement at the same time might fire , which has to be tested. But this will give a sense of security , where we can see who viewed our profile and accept if the user had given a request , block . ignore someone if that user had been annoying , if a friend we know had viewed ,w e can message them and start a conversation.

Conclusion

Between parents, trolls, data misuse, and identity security concerns, the social media platform once known for its youthful audience has engineered itself out of teen relevance and into the hands of the older generations. Its still not late , we can concentrate on features that attract Gen Z and also relate to existing user base.

 

The product direction should be to introduce small features that create a buzz , and slowly make changes that keeps the momentum going. Creating a new and improved application overnight will only shun away existing users.Typically , we can introduce Viewers and Watch together feature > categorinzing news feed > Focus on events > finally drop the landing page.