Everything That Rises Must Converge

The tech community — particularly the social media and marketing folks — were all, well, atwitter at the news today that social aggregator site FriendFeed is introducing a new beta interface.

Here’s Friendfeed before:

And the beta, which will run concurrently for a while before replacing the old UI:

Yes, kids, the result is a UI that looks less like a firehose of information and more like current media buzz darling Twitter:

Plenty of other tech sites and blogs are generating a whole lotta of pixels analyzing what this could mean for Friendfeed and Twitter, in terms of usage, and growth.

What interests me, however, is the usability perspective. Given that the recent design change to Facebook was also compared to Twitter, we now have three major social media sites with increasingly similar — converging — user interfaces.

More and more “civilians,” encouraged by the media buzz and/or friend requests from their high school classmates, are joining the social media revolution/bandwagon. The more similar those experiences are, and the easier they are to use, the greater the odds that they will continue to participate, and participate more heavily.

So what does this mean for UI design? Are all future social media endeavors conscripted to living in the post-Twitter age? I don’t think so. I hope not, in fact.

But it once again reminds us that we should be aware, as creators of web experiences, of the navigation and other interface conventions that our potential users are learning from the sites that are almost certainly bigger than ours.

  • What do you think the Friendfeed/Facebook redesigns teach us about the future of social media user interfaces?

[And bonus points if you recognized this blog post title as a) a short story by Flannery O’Connor or b) a song by Shriekback.]

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