The internet is a marvelous thing. I would count it as one of mankinds greatest creations. It’s a great open platform for business, information, leisure and social interaction. The internet has spawned amazing websites such as Amazon, Wikipedia, Youtube, Google, Twitter and Facebook.
My hero Ryan Carson has now boldly stated that the internet is the internet no more. He simply says that “Facebook.com is now the internet”. And while I agree with his arguments, his statement sends shivers down my spine.
He bases his statement on big companies which communicate their Facebook page as their main web location more and more. This seems to make their website obsolete. It raises the question if there still is a place for company websites.
I’m all for change, but in this case it scares me a bit. But I’m not all doom and gloom so let me share some thoughts.
Why are the brands so high on Facebook?
This is simple. Facebook is where the eyeballs are, plain and simple. You can’t stay away from a platform with over 500 million users. The fact that sharing amongst friends is so easy and powerful gives a great opportunity the expand your brand. Consumers also like the easy interaction they can have with a company. Being big on Facebook makes you seem more accessible as a company.
Facebook limits creativity
As a designer and developer moving away from total control is frightening and limiting. You need to work with what Facebook gives you. Custom CSS and HTML are not an option. And it’s not hard to see a lot more restrictions.
Restrictions empowers creativity
On the flip side, working with restrictions forces you to be creative. I’m sure a lot of great and currently unimaginable solutions will be created to get the best out of the platform.
Limits the experience
To me this is the biggest problem. Brand websites are all about the experience. Facebook limits the brand experience in big ways. A brand’s Facebook page is not that different from your friends Facebook profile. The creative solutions some companies will develop may create a better experience, but you are still at the mercy of Facebook.
You can say goodbye to all color theory and typographic knowledge. You have no control over how your page will display in Facebook’s app or on a mobile phone.
When you don’t have full control over the experience, it’s very hard to create an experience which helps you to achieve your clients goals. And those goals are what’s really important to a client.
What we need to do
As web professionals we need to learn from why companies are moving to Facebook. It’s because they are missing something in their current websites. Our job is to find those missing pieces and incorporate them better in the sites we create. A lot of consumer brand websites are all experience, but no content or interaction. Others do offer content, but are still very limited on interaction. Facebook solves the interaction part, but if that is what’s missing, why not give people that within a carefully crafted experience? And it’s funny that it’s Facebook that gives you the tools to do just that.
Facebook won’t go away, but so won’t company websites. Facebook is all the rage right now and rightfully so. I love Facebook, but no matter how you look at it, it’s still a website. And every website has it’s limitations. And the great internet, which has given us means to spread knowledge, to entertain, to do new business and stuff we can’t even imagine yet can’t fit within limitations. Facebook can help us achieve goals, but it is not the goal itself.