Facebook employees say goodbye to their desktops and go mobile-only to improve the app

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It’s no secret that Facebook’s mobile approach needs work – a quick peek into the Facebook Mobile app pages for Android, iPhone, and Windows Phone will show user reviews that range from lukewarm to just plan frustrated. This is why mobile development has been Facebook’s number one priority since announcing it last year. And recent updates have showed ample improvement. But making progress on mobile was (and still is) so important, that Facebook actually had to turn off the website internally to force employees to access their social networking accounts through their phones.

“To be honest, a couple of weeks ago, myself and a number of other product managers had access to our website internally shut off,” admitted Facebook product manager Josh Williams, during the recently concluded SXSW. “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.'”

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Facebook has been undergoing revamps to massively improve the user experience, but now that more people access the network via mobile than via desktop, focusing progress on this platform in particular has been a serious undertaking. “In 2012, we connected over a billion people and became a mobile company,” Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg declared during his fourth-quarter results announcement.

It isn’t the first time Facebook has made its employees eat the dog food. When the company was updating its Android apps, developers lost their iPhones and switched to Android in order to get a hands on feel for the experience they were creating. “I’m a designer, and I use an iPhone – it’s the way most designers are,” Williams said, according to Fast Company. “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.”

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