Why Friends Reunited Failed

Monday, March 2nd, 2009

Andy Budd offers a couple of pointers to why Friends Reunited ultimately failed.
The first is familiar to anyone who understands the link between social viruses and biological ones, or who’s read The Tipping Point

Like all social sites, Friends Reunited relied on the network affect, so when membership reached its tipping point the whole site went viral. However a lot of viruses burn through their fuel so quickly they die almost as fast as they grow, stifled by their own success. So with Friends Reunited once you’d registered, seen what your old friends were doing, connected with the ones you’d wanted to and had a laugh at the (hopefully) tragic lives of your childhood tormentors, there was very little reason to stick around.

The second links to my oft repeated point about how the design of the site (in terms of its graphic look and feel) isn’t as important as people think.

The design of the site was delightfully amateurish, which was no surprise considering the background of the creators. However it had a low-fi ascetic that made it feel genuine; something it shares with it’s later contemporaries like MySpace. The truth is, while a better design would almost certainly helped its fortunes, people are willing to ignore bad design and usability if the perceived value is great. With Friends Reunited there were no credible alternatives or competition so people were happy to make do.

The greater the perceived value of something the less “good” it has to look. This is my Pizza Flyer Theory of design. Aesthetic value is inversely proportional to use value. The less useful something is, the more “beautiful” it has to look. Also the look of a thing has to match the purpose. For more see this article I wrote for Speak Up.

(Via Andy Budd::Blogography.)

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