Addiction to social media—something we are all facing nowadays. I’ve hidden spammy friends, uninstalled Facebook from my phone, installed extension to my browser that would allow me to use it only for 10 minutes per day. All these things were supposed to help me stop checking it so often, but did it worked?—No.
Recently I realized, that I don’t have a problem with a service itself. It’s the information overload I’m facing on every visit. The endless flow of news, videos, gossip, photos, people, checkins, kittens. Doesn’t matter what I’m doing, I got this compulsion to check out what’s new. And there always is something. Always. But do I really need to know all these information?—No.
What if I would be able to make Facebook be what it used to be years ago? A place to catch up with my friends, see what they are up to, photos they posted, links and funny youtube videos they shared. What if I can hide all stories that are not directly from friends and pages themselves?
And would be able to build it in just one day? If so, I decided I would post it on the Product Hunt to get feedback from the genuine community of makers there. Sort of personal deadline I set myself upon. If I’m not able to finish it the same day, I wouldn’t continue and spend more time with it.
“Move Fast. Break Things.”
First I was thinking about making a simple web app with Facebook login that would show you only the stream of your friends stories. A quick check of Facebook API if there is an endpoint to get only the friends updates, it is.
So I started with the prototype and it went well for about 20 minutes till I hit the wall. Permission to use this specific endpoint called ‘read_stream’ is not allowed for platforms where Facebook is already available.
Alright, so the app is off the table. What now. And then it hit me. Why reinvent the wheel, when all I need to do is hide these stories right on the Facebook with a browser extension. I started with analyzing HTML code of these two story types:
They are pretty identical, nothing really to differentiate them. Just one thing I noticed (might be more, I really was moving fast). The liked story starts with an extra row, where is the name of your friend and this CSS class ‘_1qbu’. So if story has this class, it should look like this:
I got working prototype in two hours and it was really exciting. Even though I spent the whole afternoon debugging it, I already started enjoying my new News Feed. To check if it is working during development, I was fading out the unwanted stories instead of completely hiding them. Then I realized, why not make this as an option and let the user choose what he wants? So I did.
What’s next? My favorite part—branding. All I did was that I took the Facebook News Feed icon, redrawn it and put a smiley face on it (have to admit I do this all the time). Later the same evening, I convinced myself I should also make a website for it, as linking from Product Hunt directly to Chrome Store didn’t seem right.
At midnight, I got everything ready for the next day:
The next day, I asked my good friend David to publish it on Product Hunt instead of me, as he already got over 170 followers. Every time you submit a product, your followers got a notification. It’s good to reach as many people as you can at submit.
After the product got like 15 upvotes, I messaged community manager Ben Tossell to check it out and see if it could be considered to be featured. We agreed that before it could be featured, the website would need a few changes to make it clear about how the extension works.
Remember, if you want your product get featured, to build it is not enough. From the image you choose as a thumbnail to tagline and website—make it perfect. If you have a whole package, Product Hunt would love to feature your product. You need to be ready to tweak your product or website on launch.
Featured products page is followed by many journalists in the industry, and your chances are pretty high that your product gets noticed. But believe me, I really was not expecting this coming.
This is what an article on The Next Web does to your website—that steep line on the beginning. It definitely got noticed there and many other media shared this story. Timing is also crucial, you need to be featured by 8 am PST. People are leaving work in Europe and it is almost lunch time on the East Coast.
I was not alone! It turns out I was not only solving my problem but yours too. Thanks for all the kind words and upvotes.
Does this little extension threaten Facebook and it’s business model? Of course not. With 1.5 billion users and more than half of them on mobile devices, the company has really nothing to worry about. I would rather look on this initiative and the warm response it got as a signal of what some portion of users want.
The biggest success I can think of would be an addition of the new option to the News Feed—Friends News, that could work well along with the Top and Recent News. To let users choose, how they want to experience the service. I will absolutely understand if Facebook would not implement this, but man, it would be awesome if they would.
Find out more about the extension at friends feed website.
You can still vote for friends feed on the Product Hunt.
Check out the friends feed source code on Github.
You can reach me at twitter @jurajivan.
Please keep in mind I’m not used to write and English is not my native language. Just wanted to share my experience with the power of Product Hunt with you. ✌🏻