Website Conversion July 29th, 2008
The new Facebook layout is getting mixed reviews amongst many internet marketing and general website users today. Some people believe that the design is pushing the ‘application’ aspect of the site a little too much. My own belief about the new design is that it reflects a strong upgrade and is exactly what Facebook needed to improve usability for the web sites visitors.
Facebook is a social networking site that has exploded over the last 2 years. (if there was a bigger word I could use in the place of ‘exploded’ then I would!) Microsoft paid a staggering $240 million for 1.6% of this company for a reason. It is not going away. Even Facebook is getting a better feel for what the purpose of this site fills. The new changes reflect the uses its users are becoming focused on.
The balance of this article describe the changes that I feel have helped improve overall usability for the website.
Like any site with strong usability the top navigation items all the most important links are at the top. Whether you like it or not, applications are clearly going to play a bigger part of this site as time goes on.
Facebook is about gossip! Now the status updates not only are more prominent but there is more room to enter more information about what is current in your life. Other prominent items now include, bookmarks, and birthdays. Notably, “poking” is now a less priority. (think people were overusing this function?)
Facebook has very smartly positioned the main actionable buttons now at the very top of the screen. Think this will promote interaction on the site? Absolutely! Think Facebook will increase its already dominant status of the world’s largest photo sharing website? Absolutely!
Upon clicking on your own name you are then brought to your own settings. Facebook has been very smart placing a nice sub navigation for “Wall”, “Info”, “Photos”, and also the ability to customize by adding your favorite applications.
The wall has been promoted within Facebook. Improved sorting, improved usability and ability to respond to peoples statuses are notable improvements.
Advertising (in the form of pay per click and pay per impression) has become a big part of the Facebook experience. Not only can advertising be found in the live feed but small banner ads have also been moved from the left column to the right side. One subtle change that I liked occurs when viewing photos. When clicking through photo after photo, Facebook has smartly decided to display the same advertisement rather than flipping from ad to ad. (which would be incredibly distracting)
The new Facebook design is receiving mixed reviews. I believe most of the poor reviews come from people that have not yet adapted to the new design rather than people with true web usability concerns. Over time, I am certain that Facebook has placed enough research and development into their application to be certain it will improve the overall user experience.