How Facebook is Designed for the Ah-Ha Moment

I’m not sure who brought this up but I was fascinated to hear how Facebook has been specifically designed to elicit an “ah-ha” moment from the user, an ah-ha moment which Facebook knows will convert a registered user into an active user. The Facebook blog has more details but I’ve pulled my favourite passages:

Last year, we brought in some users to test our registration flow. The tests were going all right until we got a woman who had the worst experience. Everything that went wrong did. She got a tough captcha, had trouble logging into her webmail account, and got error after error when filling out the forms.

But then something awesome happened. She got asked some basic information about where she went to high school, and in the next screen, her face just lights up because she saw someone she recognized as a suggestion. As a result, we designed an entire roadmap around that ah-ha moment.


Another ongoing test is to eliminate everything before the a-ha moment. Just type in your e-mail and we’ll try to show you people you could be connected to. This way, you don’t lose the people who would otherwise be frustrated by having to go and confirm the account.

A third thing we’ve done is to get friends to suggest actions that help a new user progress through Facebook. An example is suggesting friends and/or profile pictures for a new user. Today, we pump 4 million friend suggestions per day.

The feedback cycle for getting a user from new user to very engaged and active user is important, but a lot of this hearkens from game design. Game design is really advanced in this respect. The game Spore is a great example. in the beginning, you just eat things and grow, and try not to get eaten. It’s very simple. If you succeed, you got to the next level which is more sophisticated, with more options and more rewards.At Facebook, the high-level feedback cycle is around sharing. You post stuff, you get comments and likes from friends, and this drives you to post and share even more stuff.

Compare and contrast this to Twitter which relies on its “hotness” as a Web start up to get people to join and participate – possibly another reason why 60% of Twitter users stop using the service after the first month.

Yesterday, during “Quit Facebook Day,” I posted the following:

quit twitter day would be way more effective than quit facebook day. FB integrates itself into your life; twitter is a fun diversion

To quickly unpack that throwaway comment, Facebook is designed to spark an emotional reaction and connection; it makes it easy for you to become addicted. Twitter makes you work for your addiction and, if we know anything about people, it is that we don’t work for much. It’s an interesting contrast considering they are, ostensibly, two services built around the same thing – sharing information and having your network validate that sharing.

via Facebook | Facebook Design: Liveblogging Designing the First Fifteen Minutes.


6 Responses to How Facebook is Designed for the Ah-Ha Moment

  1. Bob LeDrew says:

    Interesting thought, Ed, but not one I can easily agree with. I would give up FB far more easily than Twitter. A far higher percentage of my interactions over Twitter are useful than my use of FB. And having people tag me for those STUPID games is highly annoying. It’s a matter of signal-noise for me and Twitter seems to score better on that.

    (That being said, I would miss out on seeing new baby pics from friends and family far far away…)

  2. […] 2010-06-01T15:00:27  How Facebook is Designed for the Ah-Ha Moment [link to post] […]

  3. […] This post was mentioned on Twitter by journal des reseaux, SocialMedia Schedule. SocialMedia Schedule said: How Facebook is Designed for the Ah-Ha Moment – […]

  4. […] 2010-06-03T07:13:16  Facebook is designed to catch you with ah-hah moments [link to post] […]

  5. […] 2010-06-03T07:56:00  RT @Don_Crowther: Facebook is designed to catch you with ah-hah moments [link to post] […]

  6. […] We blogged about it. We waxed poetic about it. We told whoever was listening about it, and even those who might not have been listening, how cool and powerful this thing called social media was. We were all evangelists who had Ah-ha moments. […]

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