October 27, 2015Mobile · Culture · Performance · Testing · Networking and Traffic

Building for emerging markets: The story behind 2G Tuesdays

Chris Marra

People are coming online at a fast rate in emerging markets. In most cases, they are doing so on mobile via 2G connections. But on a typical 2G network, it can take several minutes to download a webpage. That doesn't make for a great experience when sharing content with friends and family. To build for a global audience like ours, we know that we need to design features that work seamlessly even on a 2G network.

We’re always developing tools and systems to address this. Earlier this year we released Connection Class, which helps you smartly segment based on network performance in real time. We also built a tool to simulate network conditions, called Augmented Traffic Control.

While both of these tools are useful for developers looking to simulate and account for slow network conditions, they don't solve for everyday decision-making around how a product should function or look. Today we're taking another step toward better understanding by implementing “2G Tuesdays” for Facebook employees. On Tuesdays, employees will get a pop-up that gives them the option to simulate a 2G connection. We hope this will help us understand how people with 2G connectivity use our product, so we can address issues and pain points in future builds.

Today's effort was born in a conference room. Our team was discussing what it would take to bring Augmented Traffic Control directly into the app so people could test network conditions no matter where they are. One person asked whether we thought the work would be effective — would people actually use it? A team member suggested that we just start opting people into a 2G experience on a certain day of the week; another quickly suggested the pithy name, and then we got to work. Giving employees a seamless way to empathize with the people using Facebook on networks like this brings us a step closer to helping everyone use our product in a quick and seamless way.

Happy 2G Tuesday!

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