Tag Archives: Bookmarks

Can Users Find Their Games in the New Facebook Homepage?

So two weeks after slowly dripping out of the recent Facebook homepage redesign, one indicator that users still don’t know where to find things (like games) is the number of developers spending time educating users how to find the Game Dashboard:


In general, while the creation of the Games Dashboard at least acknowledged the importance of games in the day-to-day usage of the Facebook platform, Facebook didn’t bother publicizing the games dashboard during the rollout.

So far I haven’t been able to discern a noticeable decline across all developers, as some games were already declining from December platform changes and there were a good deal of promotions (e.g. various Valentines promos and horse stable promotion on FarmVille) that may have masked the impact of the redesign. That said, one example where it does seem to have had an effect is Playdom:


While bookmarks weren’t always leveraged by users, they were persistent and did provide a very convenient way for a user to get to their favorite application consistently. Now to get to the games dashboard, you must continually navigate back to the homepage to find the link. I firmly believe the games dashboard is a huge improvement, providing the potential to discover new games and find your existing ones. But further education cannot overcome the fundamental design flaw of not having “games” as a persistent part of the site navigation, visible from every page. There seems to be some ample space in that blue navigation bar at the top: a simple Games link there could be a benefit for the entire ecosystem.

What About the Power User?

One other side note is that I missed in assessing the homepage redesign initially is that the ability to filter the news feed has been removed: You can choose only to see the Top News or Most Recent news. In the past, there was a way to filter the news feed by leveraging categories in the left navigation, such as user-defined “Family” or network groups, but also by games (a FarmVille power user could select FarmVille and see all their friends’ posts).

One has to wonder if that feature has hurt some of the bigger games, as power users in the past could use that feature to connect with friends (and keep them reinforcing the circle of sending requests and gifts to each other). Now the only way power users can get that feature is to go to FarmVille.com, which has that filtered news feed prominently right below the game.

Update 2/20/2010:Kudos to the product team at Cafe World to take the initiative, being one of the first apps to actually share the Cafe World-specific filter and help their power users find their neighbors’ posts:


What is Counter Worthy in New Facebook Design? Mafia Wars Gives Us a Preview

While Facebook has already communicated the elimination of bookmarks in the bottom bar and the addition of “Counters” next to each application listed in the left column navigation for bookmarked applications, the rules about how to use counters appears to be up to developer interpretation.

While you can’t see counters live yet, you CAN see how Zynga is planning to use it for Mafia Wars as their homepage has been redesigned to highlight a number of things and the counter-looking icon is in place in the upper right corner:


Besides Game News, the list of items includes Bookmark Me, Become a Fan, Join the Email List, and Social Job (where someone has responded to your request for help on a job). A user can hide them to reduce the counter down, but these straight forward tasks already created a counter with 13 items in it.


Initially, applications with high counters might get a user’s attention, but if these don’t provide value, they are likely to be ignored by users, much like the shotgun notifications were (several developers got in the habit of posting the same notification multiple days in a row). If instead, there are useful reminders, like when a crop is ready for harvesting or a energy pack is available, then users may find an enhanced utility around counters. Instead of having to police notifications, Facebook is probably hoping user reaction and market forces will ensure counters aren’t abused.


Much like email marketing (and notifications before), the key will be optimizing frequency and the message, mixing in marketing promos and game-specific activity. Given a core of notices with utility for the user, developers are also likely to benefit most in that users will actually be able to find their notices, which before were lost in a sea of messages in the old Notification tool.

Detailing How Facebook Users are Using – Or Not Using – Bookmarks

When I started looking at the recent push by developers to bookmark or become a fan of an application, I quickly realized there was no publicly available information about the number of bookmarks and what applications were being bookmarked the most. In recent discussions about platform changes, the Facebook team noted “At the moment we are not planning to make whether an application has been bookmarked query-able via our APIs.”).

Only since the beginning of this month has Facebook provided a way for developers to know how many users have bookmarked their application. Much like I looked at Fans per Monthly Active User (MAU) as a way to benchmark your ability to connect with users, a developer can now look at what percentage of MAU are bookmarked. But even this data doesn’t provide much detail as to how many of those bookmarks are actually visible in one of the current six available spots at the bottom of each Facebook page.

So how are users responding to all these requests to bookmark and what are they doing? I took a very non-scientific and not completely representative sample (42 of my friends and family) to get a very rough idea of what’s happening. The results surprised me: about half of the users had not taken the time to change the default Facebook bookmarks.

There are six visible bookmark positions on left hand corner of the Facebook footer, but five of them are pre-populated with Facebook applications by default: Photos, Groups, Events, Marketplace (new since March) and Notes. [Note: If a user uploads a video, then Videos is inserted between Photos and Groups and Notes is dropped; also if a user manages or has their own Fan Page, they will have “Ads and Pages” as the first Bookmark, pushing Photos and other defaults down a notch].

When a user bookmarks an application, the icon for that application slides into the sixth bookmark spot. After that, every new application bookmarked replaces the bookmark in the sixth spot (e.g. if you had FarmVille in that sixth spot, then are asked to bookmark Pet Society, Pet Society replaces FarmVille). And that’s exactly what over a third of respondents are doing – leveraging a single bookmark spot for a non-default application.

This split was pretty similar across gender line – but users who considered themselves frequent game players definitely were more proactive in adding more non-default applications:

  • Self-defined heavy game players had modified 3.67 of the six bookmark slots
  • Medium game players modified 2.27 of the six slots
  • Low or non game players modified 1.16 of the six slots

While some of the heavy game players had not figured out how to manipulate the bookmarks (just adding a single non-default app in the sixth spot), over half of them had modified five or six slots. Anecdotally, most game players tended to play ONLY the games that were in their bookmarks, rarely straying to play something not readily visible either through a bookmark or in their newfeed or notifications.

What applications appear to be breaking through?

Some 60 different applications were bookmarked and visible to these 42 users. The top non-default applications bookmarked (showing percentage of all users that had it in their top six):

  • FarmVille (26%)
  • Mafia Wars (21%)
  • Café World (14%)
  • Bejeweled Blitz (10%)
  • Farm Town and Cities I’ve Visited (7%)
  • And ten more apps were at 4%

For more stats and analysis, read the full post at InsideSocialGames.com