OK, so it's my Birthday today and one of the cool things about Facebook is that you can see your friends' upcoming Birthdays. And no, I don't think there's any expectation for them to write messages - but a lot of them did write on my wall and create nice graffiti ;-)
In fact I got cards through the post, cards and drawings in person, calls on the land-line, calls, and texts on the mobile, plus a few deliveries to the front door. Phew - and on your birthday there can never be enough communications channels.
The tiny (very tiny) thing about Facebook was where and when it wished me happy birthday.
Now I got 'happy birthday' vouchers from our local Indian Restaurant (tick), I even got a happy birthday Email from Clairol cos I bought my wife some hair products for Christmas (half a tick, I don't have any hair, but it was my credit card) - so although we have all the data, there's no guarantee how well it will be utilised.
I like what Facebook does in flashing up pending birthdays a few days in advance and strangely (or is that serendipity?) quite a few of my new friends have birthdays around the same time as mine, which I never knew.
So, cutting to the chase...
What does facebook do when it's MY birthday? Well it tells all my friends (big tick) so I get messages on my wall (another big tick) but what does it say to me, the birthday boy? NOTHING, at least not at 08.00 this morning when like the slightly sad person I am, I check. Facebook 'knows' my date of birth cos I told them- but that little box titled 'Birthdays' is empty. How come - what about me?
Doh! - and here's my point. When creating a service experience like Facebook and designing in all those little personal service gestures I would have put a nice little birthday greeting there - right in that box (with the heading 'Birthdays') where I expect to see birthday info like the reminders. But they didn't.
What they did do about 3 hours later, however was put it up above the News Feed stuff.
So what you say - they wished you happy birthday didn't they? And wasn't that 'news' Well yes they did, and in a way it was but on an emotionally charged day, it wasn't quite right enough and a real tiny, tiny thing made it wrong, all wrong.
By putting it where I expect to see 'news' and not where I expect to see 'birthday' and by posting it 2nd thing in the morning, for me they got the 'where' and the 'when' wrong.
So when thinking about the necessities of the core experience, yes they manage that very well indeed, they also manage to 'remember me' too but the 'surprise me' bit was badly delivered.
Am I making a mountain out of a molehill? Absolutely not - as it's these little details of the experience that are the ones that make or break it, attention to these aspects of the experience will begin to differentiate one service from another. The good from the excellent. This is what we mean when we start talking about 'Experience Design' - tiny, tiny details, often totally human-centred that designers need principles or some kind of 'design language' to figure out.
And when they're not quite right you get people like me posting long rants about it.
Even on their birthday.