Facebook Unzips How Testing is Done
credit: Matt Harnack/Facebook
A little over a week ago, Boz, the Director of Engineering at Facebook, published a write up on why Facebook tests. He gave us a sneak peek as to how it’s done. You might say their way is a little Clark Kent”esque”. Facebook holds a vision which “Boz” translated in that article…”We believe that people want to connect with each other in a way that is personal and meaningful and that modern technology can provide opportunities for doing this in ways and at scales that were previously not possible…While this vision unifies us, it is sufficiently broad that the exact path to realizing it is unclear.”
The beauty of testing allows a company to realize what is unclear and create data, on a small scale, that, for lack of a better word, tests whether or not the product is viable. Facebook utilizes their users, aka customers, to test their new ideas and concepts. These tests help answer questions and support decisions that might be made off of a gut feeling or future trend expectation.
Sometimes the answer to these questions is intuitive. Sometimes we do user research. Sometimes we build prototypes and see how they feel. Often, however, we’re working on products that have no analog for comparison in research and whose merits are difficult to gauge in the abstract or at small scale,” says Boz.One of the fastest ways to grow a company or product category is to test…iterate and reiterate. Learning how customers will respond and finding out how a product will perform is amazingly valuable. When a company tests a product, it is used on a small group of people, whom are usually hand picked by their need or end use. The information gathered may translate into a broader customer base or may stay streamlined into a niche market.
“In technology we are constantly looking to the future and trying to see things the way the could be. Once we have a vision we want to work towards we tend to choose the shortest path to get to that place. On projects of sufficiently narrow scope this is clearly the right thing to do. When it comes to strategy, however, our success has come from not concerning ourselves with the entire path to the goal but rather focusing primarily on the next step in that direction.By taking one step at a time and iterating we are able to adapt quickly to a constantly changing landscape and bring our users along for the ride.”Continued on the next page