Ladies and gentlemen, Facebook has unveiled their revamped design to the world. Facebook’s idea behind the design was to make profiles more relevant for the user, organizing content in a way that those browsing may find visually interesting, as well as streamlining the design to present information that people actually care about. Peter Deng, Facebook's Product Manager, has explained that in the old layout the more popular features and information had been a pain to find, something they wanted to change with the new profile. The ‘View more photos’ link is a prime example of a widely popular feature that was hidden between less important links.
The way the new layout is designed makes perfect sense – the first things you see are Facebook’s most popular features. At the top of the page you’re presented with personal stats – birthday, employer, current city, and that oh so wonderful relationship status. Underneath is a photo stream showing the most recent photos you’ve been tagged in (you can also ‘hide’ a photo to exclude it from your stream, allowing you to customize your stream a bit).
Tab navigation has shifted directly beneath the profile photo, taking a form similar to Place pages. These tabs are self-explanatory, though it’s nice to see some presentation changes, including infinite scrolling.
A major presentation change to tab apps is the ‘Info’ section. Facebook has completely overhauled the section to make it much more aesthetically pleasing – what was once a lot of text links under Interests is now presented as images whenever possible, adding some visualization to the profile.
Don’t worry, you don’t have to share your interest as a Lady Gaga fan upfront – you have the ability to manually to sort through your interests and choose which will appear as images and which you’d like to hide, though they’re still accessible under the ‘more’ tab.
New categories have also jumped into the Info tab, allowing you to add more interests to more categories, including Philosophy and Sports. Workplace descriptions have also been updated. Throughout the section you now have the ability to add Projects, and you can tag friends that you’ve worked with or have done an activity with – the functionality is very similar to the photo tagging feature that we’re used to.
The “Friends” tab has also shown improvement. When you click it, you’ll see a grid of your friends’ faces along with a search box.
Further down the profile page is the last major change: you now have the ability to add friends to lists on your profile. There are a few lists by default – your Significant Other is highlighted (if you have one), and any family members you have connected with on Facebook, as well. You can also create customized lists that you want to share with other users. This feature is a bit of a flashback to Myspace, where these lists will be used to create “Top Friends” – a feature that apparently many users have wanted. It looks like Facebook can expect pageviews to rocket upward with teenage angst.
Facebook has also made some minor tweaks, such as messages and pokes being more prominently displayed at the top of the page. There’s also a link to your ‘friendship page’, featured on the right side of the screen – a feature that was released recently but, again, not easy to find.
It’s interesting to note how Facebook has approached the new profile roll-out process this time around. The new version was showcased last weekend on an episode of 60 Minutes, and unlike profile releases in the past, users aren’t being forced into using the new site immediately. It looks like Facebook has taken an approach similar to Twitter’s “New Twitter” release, letting people slowly opt in.
Facebook will be prompting users to update to the new profile layout; however they won’t be forced if they don’t want to. Facebook hasn’t said how long it will be before everyone is forced to upgrade. It’s important to note that if you do choose to update, you can’t revert back to the old version, so be careful if you aren’t ready to take the leap.
There has been a careful approach when presenting users with the new layout, creating a ‘wizard’ that helps people walk through useful steps, highlighting major profile changes such as the new menu system, photo stream, and so on. It’s a brief presentation that only takes a minute or two, but having the option to be given a brief overview will definitely help with the transition between layouts.
These two user friendly features show that Facebook is looking forward and listening to their user base, adding tools that were clearly designed to reduce confusion – very important seeing as profile pages haven’t changed drastically over the years. This is a great preventative measure to help reduce backlash that Facebook tends to get whenever a site change is made.
From a functional point of view the new profile is great. It’s not confusing and it does a great job with presentation, making the profiles much more attractive. People likely won’t have much of an issue with it, it will just take some getting used to, but people will come to love the new profile pages just fine.
In my next post I’ll be looking at how ‘checking in’ to web pages will be widely adopted across both social media and websites in the future, so check back soon for full details!
If you want to upgrade to the new profile, you can do so here.