Reflections on Facebook’s IPO

by Joy Johnson on May 8, 2012

As I listened to talk about Facebook getting it’s IPO, I started thinking about how it took off and MySpace died. Why? My conclusion is “packaging.” MySpace was butt-ugly. Just hideous. Pages would absolutely hurt your eyes. It was the best example I can think of for “don’t do it just because you can.” Otherwise, the functions were similar, right?

Facebook and Google win because of their clean interface packaging I first saw Facebook back in 2006, my reaction was very much the same as my reaction to Google when it first came out. There was a clean white page – no clutter – no hideous flashing animated gifs. There was just clean functionality that allowed my own mind the time and space to function without fighting through, and against, all of the other sensory input.

I’ve long held the belief that about 80% of all of life relates directly to the packaging. Your success relates to how you package yourself – keeping in mind that different kinds of people are drawn to different packaging. Successfully merchandising requires the right packaging.  Mates are generally considered packaging first.

When you examine the outcome, especially on the web, and I think it’s true in all of life, good design principals count – a whole lot – and keeping that interface crisp and clean with a lot of open space wins every time. If MySpace had just controlled the hideous clutter, there would be no Facebook today.

The lesson is this. The easiest way to be hugely successful is to find something that is already successful, then rebuild it without it’s flaws. Rebuilding without flaws is often simply a matter of editing.

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