13 June 2018

Stop “feeding” your users

But the longer I’ve spent working on Shopify Home, the more I’ve realized that feeds create user experience problems too. Machine learning is evolving and becoming more powerful everyday, but the way we design machine learning interfaces is stuck in 2006 — the year Facebook first launched News Feed.Stop “feeding” your users

I love this approach and Gillian’s critical thinking. Feeds are, in most cases, broken experiences. Companies throw money and resources at developing the “perfect algorithm” and most users (Instagram, Twitter to name a few) just want their ordered, chronological order back.

This overload means it now makes little sense to ask for the ‘chronological feed’ back. If you have 1,500 or 3,000 items a day, then the chronological feed is actually just the items you can be bothered to scroll through before giving up, which can only be 10% or 20% of what’s actually there. This will be sorted by no logical order at all except whether your friends happened to post them within the last hour. It’s not so much chronological in any useful sense as a random sample, where the randomizer is simply whatever time you yourself happen to open the app. ’What did any of the 300 people that I friended in the last 5 years post between 16:32 and 17:03?’ Meanwhile, giving us detailed manual controls and filters makes little more sense - the entire history of the tech industry tells us that actual normal people would never use them, even if they worked. People don’t file.The death of the newsfeed

I’ve taken a different approach on Instagram and to some extent Twitter (though I think their feed is the best of the three) - I simply unfriend people that clog up my feed. I have some people (even family members) that post so much content that it clogs my feed. Whenever I want to find out what they’ve been up to, I simply search for their name and have a look at their latest posts (note that this is only possible if they have an open account).