Bookmarks: Developers’ New Imperative

As we reported yesterday, Facebook has released a new Applications menu that significantly improves applications’ overall visibility in the new design. While the direct links in the shortcut bar and the menu itself have received much acclaim, the “Add bookmark” icon could prove to have the greatest material impact on developers.

Bookmarking an application is a relatively new behavior for users on Facebook, as previously the application sidebar was populated by links that were added during the initial installation process. Before the introduction of the application menu, some developers (and users alike) complained that the bookmarking process was too unclear. Now, the “add bookmark” icon is readily available to users, thus those complaints should largely disappear.

Gone from the prior Applications menu implementation (which used to be in the new design’s top nav) is the “Recently used” section, which used to sit above a user’s bookmarked applications. Now, the Applications menu exclusively features bookmarked applications. This change is subtle, but the impact could be substantial. For example, if a user were to “allow” a new application, she would need to bookmark it during her first session or possibly have no easy means of rediscovery in the future (other than recall). In most cases, that user is effectively lost as a potential repeat visitor if she didn’t click “add bookmark” during her first visit.

If developers were able to integrate the “add bookmark” functionality directly into their canvas page experiences this problem could largely be mitigated, though this implementation would lack the elegance and consistency of the icon in the menu bar. Alternatively, the “Recently Used” section could resurface either when the full Applications list is opened or in place of the application bookmarks in the homepage’s right column, which is essentially equivalent to the new menu bar.

While that is largely speculation, and the currently menu bar is likely to change, the issue is indicative of the reality of Platform: developers and companies can be seriously impacted by even the smallest of Facebook’s changes.