As most of us would have known, Facebook is a social media platform widely used in the world. Initially, it started only with a simple chat side bar that lives on Facebook itself. Today, it has its dedicated Messenger site (https://www.messenger.com), as well as native applications on the mobile devices such as Facebook Messenger for the iPad.
Although this post would focus on Facebook Messenger for the iPad, it may use comparison with the other Facebook Messenger clients like the web messenger service.
The three main points, along with some original thoughts, that I would talk about are listed below:
- Inconsistency in UI
- Keeping users in the Facebook Ecosystem
- Building on cool plugins inside Facebook Messenger
Firstly, the notable inconsistency in UI throughout the application was what the team has pointed out, that UI on the top navigation bar is rather inconsistent. Can it be completely resolved? We’ll find out.
Figure 1. “People” tab
Figure 2. “Groups” tab
Shown in figure 1, the buttons were represented with flat icons that represents the buttons’ actions clearly. (Search on the left, Add on the right) However, shown in figure 2, the buttons are now represented by text at the same areas, but on different tabs. Inconsistent!
The text could have been replaced with similar flat icons to address the UI consistency, as well as to save on the amount of effort translating to tons and tons of languages to make sense to those who don’t understand english.
Figure 3. New “Groups” tab with flat icons
As visualised above, the two icons would mean the same thing for the same action. Simply more intuitive.
However, finding the right icon is never easy, and might confuse users instead.
Figure 4. “Settings” tab
What would be a good icon to represent Edit? Even Apple does not know. (Check out the stock Mail/Photos application on iOS)
Anything resembling a “pen” would fail as it would look very similar to a “Create new chat” icon as shown in Figure 5 below.
Figure 5. “Recent” tab
Next point, creating a Messenger application to keep users in the Facebook Ecosystem. In this time and day, instant messaging is prevalent. Since Facebook is already a very social centric platform, it should develop their own messaging platform so that users will leave Facebook less often. This keeps them at least with competitors out there, and leaves very little space for new platforms to emerge in a short period of time.
Finally, building on cool plugins on Facebook Messenger is pretty interesting as it lets developers work on interesting ideas that can be plugged into Facebook Messenger, rather than to compete directly by spawning a new service such as 3216 Messenger. The key idea is to have a unified system, but have different providers of content.
It is a brilliant strategy to keep developers busy on creating content for them. And as mentioned, some of these content providers would become viral as if they’re good, they often spread fast.
To end off the post, I would like people to note that Facebook has been developing on their own virtual assistant, “M”, and building it into Facebook Messenger itself. Smart! Another cool way to keep users hooked onto their ecosystem.
Figure 6. Facebook “M” for Facebook Messenger
You know, accessing Siri is not exactly very intuitive… and sometimes I don’t wish to speak to my phone. Even when I do speak to my phone, having my phone recognise my speech accurately is another issue. I would think that Facebook has the right direction on this one! Just hope they pull it off well. 🙂