It must be that time of year again when Facebook decides to upset the status quo and roll out something new. They’ve released their redesign so that users can opt in to checking it out before it becomes the new standard. I’ve been playing around with the new site for a few hours and I have a number of mixed feelings.
The only thing that has really changed here is the look. Not much content has changed over the old layout, the News Feed is still the dominant feature.
This is where all the change is happening, what was once a single page that held all of your information has now been split into different tabs, dominated by the Wall. The new Wall contains everything that you post including Notes, Posted Items and Status updates instead of just traditional wall posts. Your basic, personal, contact, and work information which used to be displayed on the top of your profile have been moved to the “second” tab. Facebook Photos also get their own tab, and any other applications you had on your profile that weren’t on the left bar have been removed to the Boxes tab. You can also create whole tabs for specific applications.
The biggest impact is that Facebook has geared the Wall to dominate your Profile, whether you like it or not. It’s the default page that people see when they go to your profile, and essentially the only thing they see. Since the Wall now also carries anything that you post it is obviously the most “social” aspect to your profile, and also the most frequently checked thing anyway. To get at the other information that used to be at the top of your profile you now have to click through to a second page. And most of your applications that you had situated nicely between the two are moved even farther off into oblivion.
The main goal of the redesign seems to be keeping things focused on being social by expanding and forcing the prevalence of the Wall, where nearly all of the day to day action happens in the first place. But in the past year or so with the explosion of third party applications many users have centered their social attention on other applications. Most of these are the ____Wall replacements that offered capabilities that the default doesn’t, or applications like Bumper stickers where people can share iconic images. Now that users are being forced to have the official Wall as the default view of their profile, their favorite applications are moved off to another tab, where they have to be sought out to be seen. Most applications were designed to be seen in passing and not have to be sought out be viewers in the first place. This has upset not only many of the users, but the application developers as well. On a single page layout it was more of a level playing field for Facebook itself and applications to fight over how users could be social, now Facebook as taken the upper hand and some are sure to cry foul.
As a Facebook user who didn’t have many 3rd party apps to start with I think the redesign is ok and that most users will come to accept it quick enough. Of course there will still be a vocal number that will violently oppose it. As someone who was close to but not directly involved with 3rd party application development it is a little disappointing to see the solid profile unit get broken up and for dominance to be once again given to the Wall. Application developers now face an entirely different challenge to capture the attention of Facebook users.