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Facebook COO on redesign: Still figuring it out

Sheryl Sandberg says Facebook still doesn't know what went wrong with a redesign process that resulted in changes many users disliked. But the work goes on.

PALO ALTO, Calif.--Facebook's chief operating officer, Sheryl Sandberg, says the company's still not sure why the recent redesign process irked so many of the Web site's users.

Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg Corinne Schulze/CNET

"In terms of what went wrong with the redesign, we don't know yet," Sandberg said during a Q&A session at the Global Technology Symposium held Thursday at Stanford. But she added that the percentage of users giving the redesign a thumbs down was smaller than previous changes to the site.

"As a percentage of our users, this one is much less than before," she said.

She also offered a backhanded compliment to Twitter, the microblogging site that Facebook considered buying last year.

"What's interesting about Twitter is that they are a very good company doing one thing very well, which is real-time update," she said. "We are, by far, the largest photo-sharing site on the Web...Similarly, we are larger at doing what Twitter does. We think what they're doing is good. Our redesign is not in reference to them--nor was our redesign in reference to Flickr."

Separately, Sandberg said that the economy has not reduced advertising revenue. "We are growing our revenue. We are growing our advertising," she said, without getting into the specifics.

Update: Following the publication of this post Thursday afternoon, Sandberg subsequently sent me the following note, which I am including with her permission:

I appreciate your story and want to clarify what I said at the Stanford conference. Our recollection is that an audience member suggested in a question that Facebook had a flawed redesign process, and I responded that it was too early to tell if it [the new home page] was flawed at all. Consistent with how we have been speaking about the new home page, I absolutely did acknowledge that some of our users are upset and we are listening to them. And as announced on Wednesday, we've made changes in response. Facebook is always iterating on the site and we regularly launch new features and make changes along the way, often incorporating suggestions from users. In fact, we don't regard the process as a flaw at all. We believe the level of engagement of our users and the feedback loop we've created gives Facebook a unique competitive advantage.