In a few days Facebook Creative Labs will be launching their new app Paper. In development for a year, Paper is a Flipboard-like app that aggregates Facebook stories and posts into an enhanced interface focused on snazzy UX principles.
You might recall the dissension around the layout changes Facebook pushed out over the past five years (like Timeline). This may be a confident experiment to push Facebook’s simple navigation to a new user experience level. On the other hand it could also just be one of the first examples of overdeveloped user experience design.
The design is promised to be gesture controlled, intuitive, customizable and integrates a lot of other Facebook features (photos, messaging, etc.). But the biggest barrier to entry lies in its ability to remain engaging. The snazzy experience design promises to attract early-adopters curious to try it out, but for it to reach and retain mass adoption it requires a stronger value incentive. Most users do not have a problem with the current Facebook app, acquiring and getting familiar with a new layout requires a much greater leap than transitioning from a bad experience design. Do I want to switch to an app that provides gesture control over conventional touch-buttons? Am I bothered by the current standards of my user experience to switch? And most importantly – is it good enough that I’ll come back every time to learn and use it over its familiar predecessor?
Another problem the Facebook paper faces is dealing with a lack of an engaging maintained content stream. Built off your Facebook news feed and coupled with curated content, Paper aims to keep you well entertained as you enjoy flipping through your news feed. Maybe I have very boring contacts but my Facebook newsfeed is generally populated by close-ups of food, ads from my subscribed likes, selfies, exasperated status updates about waiting, and blurry pictures of friends on nights out. Although admittedly most of us scroll down our Facebook newsfeed endlessly anyway, Paper’s layout dedicates a lot of space to image/video contributions. It might just be another example of great implementation for a not-as-great idea.
Paper is released on Monday for iPhones in the US.