Posted by: lalunablanca | December 19, 2007

Facebook Application Support Standards (Now!)

Being very taxed for time, I rarely install any Facebook apps other than something that may serve as a utility.  When I do and then find it buggy, I became tainted and my decision to install a future application is affected.

Now, I look to see if there’s a group about the application, that it’s active and that users bug reports are being addressed by the developer.  Anymore, if I don’t see that then I don’t install it.

We need Facebook Application Quality Standards (dare it be FAQS), perhaps Support Standards is better – FASS. By anyname, the Facebook community needs it immediately!  I’d propose a ‘Seal of Approval’ certification indicating that:

  • there is a Group established for support that is actively maintained every x days with public responses
  • there is a “known issues” thread with expected new release date

I’m certain the apps are tested initally. Over the longer term, I believe failures surface because either the user attempts to configure/utilize the app in a manner that wasn’t tested, or that the Facebook platform has changed. When the platform changes, that apps may need modification as well.  This may be the root of the problem, and here’s why.

Let’s say FB modifies the platform

App-X
Application Development Company X owns an App-X and has developers on staff to go modify application X within the day, or even hours. All is good. 🙂

App-Y
Owned by Marketer-Y that hired a developer to create App-Y. App-Y worked great from launch all the way up until FB modified the platform. Thereafter, it throws errors. Now Marketer-Y must get a quote from the developer to modify App-Y to work within the new FB framework modifications, get approval, etc…  Maybe it’s cost prohibitive based on acceptance. Who knows. All that ultimately matters is that the consumer’s reality is that either “a good app went bad” or that “a new app is a lemon right out of the box”.

Someone slap me if I’m missing something fundamental here.  In the classic Web application world, we went through this when Microsoft released IE 7.  We (the developer) were faced with coming to some middle ground of retooling some sites to conform to Microsoft’s new browser. Our perspective was that it was completely unjust to perform this update for free, while at the same time most of our clients perceived it to be no brainer that we’d just handle it.

Symptom:
Users have failures in their Facebook Apps.

Causes:
1. Poor Use Case testing and the 5 other people that loaded it are my friends and know the bugs.
2. Use Case evolved after launch (i.e. Facebook modified platform)

Conclusion: Bugs happen – always.
1. Support your app. Proclaim your support on the frontend, and then do it. “Walk the Talk”. Have 3rd party “certification” (for as close to free as possible) to certain simple standards.

2. Facebook App.Devs should communicate to their clients what the long term support arrangement will be and how it will be priced. Communicate the potential modes of failure and how they might be dealt with. Set the expectation ahead of time.

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