Facebook blocks desktop site for employees to force development of mobile apps

Facebook has introduced a great new way to make sure the mobile experience of the social network improves greatly – the company has resorted to switching off its desktop website internally for employees so that they are forced to use mobile to access Facebook.

To see just how important mobile development of the app is, product managers at Facebook, including ex CEO of Gowalla, Josh Williams, turned off access to facebook.com to give mobility that extra push. Talking at SXSW a while ago, Williams said, “To be honest, a couple of weeks ago, myself and a number of other product managers had access to our website internally shut off. Basically it forced us to use only mobile devices for a week…It forced us to say, 'Hey, we have these features that exist in one place but not in another, and we have to remedy'."

There is no denying that mobility is a very crucial issue for Facebook. Not too long ago, Mark Zuckerberg had announced, “There’s no argument, Facebook is a mobile company," even as the company revealed its 2012 Q4 earning calls in January. For the first time ever, official figures showed that the number of Daily Active Users (DAU) who accessed Facebook through mobile had exceeded those on the desktop. He also referenced a comScore report to prove that Facebook is the top app in the US, beating Google Maps, and accounts for 23 percent of total time spent on mobile apps in the the country.

Switch off desktop website to improve mobile app

Switch off desktop website to improve mobile app


In the past year, Facebook has focused on growing its network and leveraging mobile devices and platforms by regularly updating the Android app and completely rebuilding the iOS version. However, such a surge in mobile DAUs was rather unexpected.

The key, now that Facebook has an edge in the mobile department, is to not let Facebook employees fall in a rut. The company expects the experience to improve manifolds and getting the website shut down internally so that employees are forced to use the mobile phone is one of the methods that is sure to bring some amount of success.

Besides shutting down the desktop site, Williams said that he had gotten rid of his iPhone so he could get a better sense of how people used Facebook on other platforms. "I'm a designer, and I use an iPhone--it's the way most designers are," he said. "But seven to eight months ago, I had to force myself to ditch it. I [was] going to use an Android device, as painful as it [was]. Because that's where so many of our users are."

Facebook has gone beyond being just a social networking website to connect with friends now. It is used extensively for discovery and exploratory purposes too. The website also has services such as the Messenger, Instagram and Poke under its umbrella. The social networking giant is making all efforts to create a uniform experience for users on the web as well as on mobile platforms. If anything, Facebook should be pushing the development of its mobile apps more than the web. Looks like they’re about to do exactly that!