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: