Balancing the power of the community with the need to take a service forward

By September 19, 2008 3 Comments

Zuckerberg wrote a nice post yesterday explaining how Facebook had listened to the community in the Facebook re-design, but at the same time they had to make some decisions.  This shows the need for community sites to strike a balance between giving the community what they want and stretching the service to new places that will initially be disliked but will (hopefully) come to be loved over time.

The following excerpt catches it nicely:

We realize that change can be difficult though. Many people disliked News Feed at first because it changed their home page and how they shared information. Now it’s one of the most important parts of Facebook. We think the new design can have the same effect.

With this release, we’ve worked harder to get more feedback about what we can improve. Starting in March, we created a Page where we gave updates on the changes we were considering and more than 150,000 people joined and participated. We also wanted to give people a chance to try out the new design before launching it for everyone. More than 40 million people tried it out and 30 million continued using it.

It’s tempting to say that we should just support both designs, but this isn’t as simple as it sounds. Supporting two versions is a huge amount of work for our small team, and it would mean that going forward we would have to build everything twice. If we did that then neither version would get our full attention.