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“What happened to Facebook?” A warning for web designers

Posted by Zack Morgan in February 2010

Tech blog ReadWriteWeb recently published an article, Facebook Wants to Be Your One True Login, reporting on AOL’s adoption of Facebook Connect. Although aimed at a technical audience, the article reached page one of Google on searches for ‘Facebook’. (ReadWriteWeb is a popular site, with plenty of incoming links.)

What happened next though, was a remarkable illustration of how easily people can be confused by websites. And a great reminder for web designers everywhere.

The article was open for commenting, and started to fill up with messages from frustrated visitors, such as

“Ok If I have to I will comment, I love facebook so right now just want to log in if thats ok with you..lol Keep up the good work...”

and

“The new facebook sucks NOW LET ME IN.”

What was happening was that Facebook users were trying to find Facebook by searching on Google, clicking on the first result that seemed to match (‘Facebook ... Login’) and arriving at ReadWriteWeb — an unrelated site which looks nothing like Facebook and has nothing in common with it other than having written a few articles on the subject.

But these Facebook users didn’t see that. They saw a link to Facebook, clicked, saw a form, and charged ahead, annoyed that somehow Facebook had changed in a way they didn’t understand.

Web designers, consider yourselves warned.

And how did ReadWriteWeb deal with the issue? They added this note at the top of the page:

“Dear visitors from Google. This site is not Facebook. This is a website called ReadWriteWeb that reports on news about Facebook and other Internet services. You can however click here and become a Fan of ReadWriteWeb on Facebook, to receive our updates and learn more about the Internet...”