Usually when a software/product goes and makes radical changes, I go on my usual rant about how ‘they’ are totally wrong and it should be changed back, and then I end up loving the new layout anyway.
I decided with the new Facebook change to take a little time before writing a post about it to see if I could see why the developers have made the decisions they have and whether I know agree with them or not.
Considering Internet time is about 1/10th of normal time, I’ve given it 2 days. I’m now fairly used to the new design and can find my way around and now understand how it is now working, but I can’t say that I agree with the new methodology used by the Facebook team.
It appears Facebook have decided (maybe in spite of their failed purchase of Twitter) “If you can’t beat ‘em, join ‘em”. In one corner you have a network larger than a lot of countries with a huge amount of rich media, photos, applications, profiles and information. In the other corner you have a micro blogging service, which while growing at an alarming rate has a much smaller number of users with no integrated media, in-depth profiles etc. Everything on twitter is basically run through text and links. So what we have is two very different social networks and now Facebook is trying to masquerade as twitter so that it seems it can avoid losing users.
If that is their assumption I believe it is very flawed as these networks are so fundamentally different. Twitter is basically two very small features of Facebook in it’s own network (walls and status updates).
Previously the Facebook Home Feed, was just that, one feed where everything that happened to you and your contacts was displayed. While I think the new filters one the side are great and were probably very needed, the new way of displaying items is now more confusing and sometimes using a lot more text.
For example, previous when someone wrote on another persons wall, there would be an item on your home feed that stated, “Person wrote on your wall”. Now you get a weird text box that looks like a Status Update had some kind of love child with a Twitter @reply. You now get a “Person > Persons wall”. This kind of ‘simplification’ is used on all items on the new feed. This makes the entire news feed feel cluttered, especially when you start getting comments and ‘likes' all over the place.
The next area where I think the user interface is now harder to follow is the notification system. Previously one glance on the right hand panel and you had any new invites, notifications, pokes, upcoming events. Now you have some notifications at the top, some have been brought up from your subscribed pages on the right and advertising is mixed in.
This makes the user now glance to at least two different places if they are good at filtering out Ads or a third if they then need to recognise the Ad and move past it into their content.
Personally, there are some really great bits to the new user interface, the persons picture next to each new item, the new filters and some of the new features for pages are great, but the modified layout and twitter-esque simplification of items and notifications makes the user experience more clunky and hard to get around.
One does wonder how much user testing is completed on such a major change to a network that is used by around 175+ million users.
If only there was an undo button.