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An Unusually Close Look At The Development Of Facebook Home

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Facebook Home had its Android-only release in April and it's been sort of proliferating a little bit maybe? ever since. It lives in a weird space between operating systems and apps, but it's meant to be something you don't over-think. So don't think about. Just let it be a mostly successful immersive experience. That's it. Oh plus this 50 minute video. But mainly it speaks for itself.


We all know that even when a company like Facebook releases something "simple" it actually has thousands of hours of creative and brute manpower behind it. But usually Facebook is pretty quiet about their UX/UI development, so it's interesting to hear Facebook staffers talk about the creation of Facebook Home. Designer Julie Zhuo opens the talk by saying:

There's been a lot of press, and there's been a lot of you know articles written about Facebook home . . . but the things that the articles never write about is actually the journey. We all just see the final product. We see the design in its completed state. And we don't really get to tell the story of all the things that happened along the way. The ups and downs. The bad ideas we tried, you know the endless iteration and critique.


So, what are some bad ideas they tried? Developer Francis Luu talks about the process of deciding what would be quickly accessible from the lock screen. The team considered having as many as eight apps that you could activate by swiping in a particular direction (all radiating around your face aka the unlock button). But that was overkill. So they thought about creating one gesture that would bring down a tray of apps. Apparently inspired by Lunchables, this design direction was called Launchables. You can see how these things would be funny if you had been sitting in Facebook HQ swiping at air for the past 36 hours. These people are braving the front lines everyday so we won't have to.

The video offers rare insight into Facebook's development process, though apparently UX/UI testing for Facebook Home was almost totally in-house and locked down with no real in-the-wild beta phase. Even if you never plan to use Facebook Home, it's worth checking out the general governing principles because they definitely apply to the Facebook Timeline and the company's general future direction. [TechCrunch]