My brother Andy and I just launched a new Facebook application called Second Impression. He describes it more eloquently and amusingly that I can on his own blog. I built the app according to his design and concept as well as advising on the Facebook platform in general. The first release was completed in about two days, which is quite possibly a record for me.
The basic premise is that you may contact a friend-of-a-friend who you feel you have made a bad first impression upon in real life. The challenge from both a technical and a user experience perspective was to effectively use an intermediary friend as a messenger in the end-to-end process. This throws up plenty of Facebook security problems, such as not being able to send notifications to people who are not your friend. The individual user processes become quite complicated too, and that’s tough to solve by just writing good copy, because people just plain don’t read it. There is also the problem of fall out, as you have two users faced with the ignore button rather than just the usual one.
I also learned something new on this project. There are some privacy settings within Facebook, which I’d imagine most people have not found. It is possible for you to prevent applications [that you have not authorized] from accessing any of your data. This appears to also apply even if the application user is your friend. In some cases I found that we are unable to even print as person’s name on the screen.