I’ve been thinking a lot about Facebook and its messaging features. In talking with a lot of people, they are all really surprised how the site has such lackluster features in their messaging application. I would also like to add my own voice to that mix. It seems that the messaging feature on Facebook really hasn’t had to many new features added over the past few years.
Just to clarify, I’m talking about the Facebook Inbox messaging, not their chat application or status messages. Those have all gotten some pretty big upgrades in order to make them more integrated into their service.
What I’m really surprised at is how much I actually send direct messages to friends on Facebook as well as how often we use it to contact one another. In a sense, it’s almost like another inbox that I have to monitor—which gets to the crux of my problem, that I have to monitor yet another inbox.
Messaging has almost no organizational features aside from the delete button. I’m pretty shocked by this, because I would rather be able to file messages away and archive them for later rather than delete them to keep my in box clean. In fact, it’s very hard to delete all the message in your inbox, due to the fact that you can select only 10 messages at a time. Thus, if you have been talking with a lot of people over time, you have 10 pages, or even more, of direct messages you have to wade through. All of this is very surprising, given all of the other very cool social networking features and web 2.0 features throughout the rest of the site.
My biggest suggestion to Facebook would be to start adding some of the features mentioned above, but I have one that would top the my request list: the ability to reply to facebook messages by email. This is a huge thing. I’ve used a number of other sites that allow for this. One of my favorites is Basecamp by 37 Signals. When I receive a message from someone else, I get an email notification and then see something that says “Reply above this line to send a message back.”
What a revelation to see how 37 Signals had implemented messaging. It’s simple, it’s elegant and it works beautifully! If only Facebook had that, rather than sending me some bacn telling me that my friend had sent me a message, in which case I have to open a new tab, navigate to facebook, log in and check my inbox. Rather, I would be able to just reply above said line and have my reply sent back to my friend.
Please join me in my crusade to make Facebook messaging better. Of course, I’m not exactly sure where to start—I tried to search for a Facebook feature suggestion page but it is nowhere to be found. It must be out there somewhere! In the meantime, I guess I just have to settle for trying to send a message.