The best place for discussion about the latest FriendFeed beta is at FriendFeed, of course. However, it would be amiss of me not to record a couple of thoughts.
On the whole, there’s little about which I feel strongly for better or worse – which rather suggests that the current design is just fine. With three major exceptions:
- The service favicons and service filtering
- Merging of rooms and individuals into subscriptions
- Real-time as default
Someone has decided that the source of information is less important than the content – in fact, that the source is irrelevant. I and many others disagree strongly. It seems that many people use the small icons that identify the item source as a subconscious visual cue, in ways that the designers have not anticipated. Richard describes this concisely.
Retain source icon and ability to filter by source.
Rooms have been renamed groups and are presented, at least in the sidebar menu, in the same context as individual users. Mistake. Rooms are not individuals; they really are virtual places where people gather for in-depth discussion of specific topics.
Keep rooms distinct.
You’ve got to be kidding me. Seriously, who uses any site in real-time? Who has time to sit and stare at the screen as updates scroll by?
This is not how I use FriendFeed. I browse, search and read items in some depth as and when I feel like it. This design decision creates a worse, not a better, impression of not being able to keep up with the information stream.
I can only assume that someone has been influenced by some self-appointed web guru telling us that real-time is the new static, or some such stupid soundbite.
Real-time as option, not default.
I feel, as do others, that FriendFeed’s appeal lies in the “information first, then people” ethos and that we are seeing a shift to personality-centric streams with an unwelcome similarity to e.g. Facebook. Ultimately, I guess FriendFeed is a business that has to attract users – and if the majority want a Facebook clone, then that’s what we will get. It will be a terrible shame if we have to move elsewhere – time will tell.