I wrote a post expressing my utter frustration around the new Facebook Messenger App forced download a few days ago. I realized this morning that during my rant, I didn’t include constructive thoughts on how the release could have been handled in a more positive way.
URL schemes can be really fantastic when they’re integrated into the user experience in a non obtrusive way. The ability to navigate seamlessly between 2 apps is fantastic. Launching the Twitter app when a person wants to share a blog post is great. Being able to tap an icon from a photo gallery to launch a specific photo app to begin editing immediately is great. Tapping a phone number on a page and being given the opportunity to dial the number instantly is great. Tapping an address and launching the maps app to get directions instantly is great.
What’s not great is tapping the messages icon in your Facebook app and having an awkward transition to the Facebook messenger app with an ugly bar at the top of the screen serving as the only way to navigate back to the main app. By the way, in the US version of the iPhone Messenger app, that navigation bar gets covered up by by every single iPhone native notification.
If I’m in the Facebook Messenger app, and I want to return to the Facebook App but I get a text message, I’m stuck there waiting for the notification to go away. Those are seconds of my life that I’ll never get back, and let’s face it, these days time is money and waiting even a few seconds for an alert to go away in order to have the opportunity to navigate is just not acceptable. People notice millisecond changes in load time, full seconds feel like an eternity these days.
So how could Facebook have eased the messenger pain points?
1. They could have given a better explanation in app of WHY the change was being made.
Instead of, “We’ve moved to Facebook Messenger, download it now to view your messages.” Which read: Do what we say right now because we’re forcing you to for no reason, and you have no choice but to obey,” they could have gone with something like, “We’ve added so many great new features to Messages, that we had to create a whole new app to support them all. You can download it now to view your messages and check out the fab new functionality.”
A message that demonstrated value, rather than a command to obey would have likely made a big difference in reception within the tech community.
2. They could have traded the top bar nav for an icon in the base bar nav.
The second fatal flaw in the app design was the garbage top bar navigation to move to and from the app. When I’m in Facebook, I click back and forth between home and notifications and messages in rapid fire succession. They could have improved the experience by giving a base bar tab navigation option of “Home” to go back to the regular FB app home screen, rather than the annoying top bar that gets covered in notifications.
I know these are small changes, but in my opinion they would have made a big impact.