Most Facebook users have noticed a notification at the top of their homepage which appeared a few weeks ago that linked to a page with information about the new layout design. For those of you that haven’t seen it, you can find the link to the information page here.
In the history of the Internet, websites have proceeded to transition from text to images to music and finally to video. Since social networks are inherently a hub of text, pictures, music and video, designers must figure out the best way to organize all of the information. Social networks must also fight to stay competitive in the packed market of social networks.
To do this, they must offer their users something that other social networks can’t. Facebook’s edge over the competition has always been a clean interface and continued expansion of features. As of the publish date of this article, Facebook has registered over 175 million active users, a staggering 2.5 % of the world’s population. With their growth, Facebook has upgraded their user interface while relying on the underlying foundation of their social network- people’s connections to each other. Most interface changes have gone relatively smoothly and have not drastically changed aspects of navigation or user experience.
Facebook is currently rolling out updates to their layout, which means that your profile will upgrade to the new version automatically within the next few days. If this layout design goes anything like the last time they redesigned Facebook, there are bound to be lots of angry people. To me, this anger is extremely unfounded. Since the beginning of Facebook, the social network has kept with its theme of a clean interface. The gray, blue and white color scheme keeps things simple while navigation between pages has remained very easy and clear. In fact, one of the main reasons I use Facebook is that I can’t stand Myspace profiles. Sure, Myspace prides itself on letting the user configure their profile, but how many Myspace profiles are truly hideous? In my experience, the answer is easy: too damn many.
Why is this redesign so good? First of all, the interface is much more clean. The information I care most about (mostly newsfeed info and notifications) is prominently displayed as the central “topic” of your homepage. Next, you can filter the newsfeed information by network and by user-determined groups. Working across the page, the user is greeted by events and birthdays as well as Facebook content like ads and news highlights that are generated by what your friends are looking at. For those of you that use applications, you’ll be able to access them easily via an expanding drop down list on the left side of the page. For Facebook application haters like me, this move is fantastic because I don’t have to look at your bumper stickers or find out that I’m not in your top 25 bestest friends or something. Another interesting move for Facebook is making your status updates a more central part of the user experience. This is no doubt in response to the incredible popularity of Twitter (which I have written about in the past, here).
I’m a big fan of Facebook’s latest innovations that keep the social network at the front of the pack. From things as simple as adding a “Like” and “Comment” button to status updates to integration between the Presidential Debates and inauguration with Facebook comments, I’ve been impressed over the last few months. Facebook may not be doing everything as awesomely as they could, but their huge user base is a testament to the utility and popularity of the social network.
This post originally aired on Onward State on March 12, 2009.