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Summary:

Two screenshots of Facebook’s forthcoming redesign show some simple yet major enhancements that also reveal where the world’s largest social network might be headed. For starters, Facebook seems to be returning to its roots, emphasizing fidelity instead of noise in its news feed.

Last week, a source emailed us two screenshots of Facebook’s forthcoming redesign. While it’s still a work in progress, it shows some simple yet major enhancements that reveal where the world’s largest social network with over 350 million subscribers might be headed. For starters, Facebook seems to be returning to its roots, emphasizing fidelity instead of noise in its news feed.

Here are some of the changes:

  • The navigation bar is reorganized, and thankfully, it seems like Facebook is removing the duplicate profile link. The name and profile links didn’t make much sense to begin with.
  • The search field is now next to the Facebook logo, a clear sign that the company wants search to play a major role in the future. Searches for brands, events, companies and celebrities will be more prominent.
  • By combining settings and login in an all-purpose “account” dropdown, Facebook is making the overall experience cleaner.
  • The sidebar is scaled down and takes a lot of cues from Facebook Lite. In fact, the new design takes inspiration from Facebook Lite in the way News Feed, Friends, Events and Photos are displayed.
  • Bookmarks is a smart way for users to add links to their favorite applications, fan pages or whatever.
  • Facebook IM is still firmly ensconced at the bottom right, but app quick links and notifications are gone.

Josh Brewer, a web designer friend of mine, believes the new design is actually pretty good and will help people consume a lot of information easily, without being overwhelmed. “I think that the changes Facebook is planning are solid, calculated design decisions based on a ton of data and research,” he said.

What are your thoughts?

  1. As usual, I love the new Facebook redesign. Of course there will be a backlash, however that’s to be expected.

    My biggest problem is how far down events and Birthdays still are. I would argue that they are more important to users than “Suggestions” or the sponsored links, however the former are more important to Facebooks’ bottom line.

    The bookmarks are a great addition, and I am guessing I am going to like having notifications on the top left.

    Cutting down on the length of the chat bar is a much needed improvement- having it stretch across the entire page used to break Ctrl+F searching (since the chat bar always covered up the found terms).

    Overall, I’m looking forward to the new design- I can’t find anything about it that I wouldn’t consider an improvement.

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  2. Some solid advances and no apparent missteps.

    I’m especially liking the creation of bookmarks, as it will hopefully be a short-term fix to the on-going problem of “lost” pages. Various areas of the site seem completely inaccessible except by chance — like the Room of Requirements, only more fickle and with a sadistic streak. Now, when I actually stumble across the EVENTS creation page, I can bookmark it!

    I’m saddened, though, by the persistence of the NEWS FEED/LIVE FEED dichotomy. It’s completely lost on me, and many other people. I simply don’t see a difference between the two. And worse, the two feeds STILL don’t cover all the updates available to me. Now, the only time I feel confident that I’ve actually seen all my updates is by surfing my wall on the (maddeningly frustrating) iPhone app.

    Facebook: the Site I Hate to Love

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  3. I am in total agreement with Silus on the News Feed/Live Feed problem. No matter hot many times I set my default to Live Feed (because I am in fact one of those people who like to see everything from those who I don’t “hide”), it changes back -almost daily now.

    News Feed always features stupid Mafia Wars/Farmville alerts but rarely captures my friends commenting on their bad day or posting cool links. Or it has posts 12 hours old that I’ve already seen!

    Basically, Facebook should allow us to granularly select the types of posts we want in our feed (links, updates, videos, who is friends with who etc etc), and whose posts are seen on our feed. It shouldn’t be Facebook’s job to determine what we should and shouldn’t see.

    Like Silus, I use the iPhone app to make sure I don’t miss things.

    The rest of the changes are basically meaningless to me. I did like the status alerts in the lower right corner before though.

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  4. Totally agree with the comment on live/news feed; FB needs to release the magical algorithm that determines which content is “interesting” as per their description. “News Feed aggregates the most interesting content that your friends are posting, while Live Feed shows you all the actions your friends are making in real-time.” Clearly this feature has merit when you have hundreds of friends (many hundreds, even thousands).

    I also wish they made the security (who sees what post/info/etc) a bit easier. Now that I’ve gone the trouble of categorizing all 300+ friends to multiple lists (I made up these categories – Work, Work+, close friends, family, workout friends) I wish they had a list for “news feed” so that I could have more control of what could be a useful feature.

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  5. I wonder which privacy features they will remove this time, under the stealth cover of a redesign? Also, the News Feed is still there. The design itself is okay, cleaning up some functions a bit and making the search bar more prominent.

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    1. Ditto. I know FB didn’t care a whit about user feedback. So I removed, for now, all Personally Identifiable Information. Making myself a very boring FB person indeed. If FB removes yet more granular control over privacy, I wonder what good it’ll be to retain FB membership. I know FB is partially about linking up with “friends” but it’s also about becoming “fans” of news sources and participating in “apps” and DETAILED control over the very specific items to which these “friends” (and other unfriended searchers and the world of the unfriended web) have access.

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      1. I want the ability to hide my friends from other people seeing them. I don’t mind them seeing mutual friends, but they don’t need to know how many I have and who I am connected to.

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  6. It still has the inscrutable twin feeds. Is there no news in the Live Feed? Is the News Feed less live? Why is the “update” button for both feeds called “News Feed?”

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  7. At face value, the new design looks to be reasonable.

    Wondering what the three icons to the left of the search bar represent – are they a new way of representing notifications perhaps?

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    1. Yea, the three icons to the left of the search bar do represent notifications. the first one is Friend Requests. Then second is Mail. The third are your normal notifications that used to be in the bottom right. I have the redesign already as it seems that I am a “test dummy”. Thus far I am loving it. Just wish that you still got notifications for status comments for your status’s and others that you have commented on.

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  8. I love it. Redesign – intelligent IA is one of the most important factors in the longevity of a social network, and I’m glad Facebook continues to move in that direction, ignoring all the constant criticism.

    I’m also loving LinkedIn’s redesign – also necessary and way overdue.

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  9. The challenge with repeatedly redesigning the site is there is usually a lot of frustration with learning to re-navigate the site.

    It’s surprising that Facebook doesn’t allow for people to opt-in to an upgraded version to avoid the backlash of the frustrated masses.

    I also agree with the other posts regarding the confusion over the Live Feed/News Feed feature. And I also agree that ensuring the “birthdays” feature is best kept prominent as well.

    Hopefully the redesign will be intuitive and not bury some of the useful applications devoted followers know and love.

    Leslie Hughes
    http://www.punchmedia.ca

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  10. When are they not creating a new redesign. It’s ridiculous how often they redesign. Whatever usability benefit comes with each redesign is defeated by having to learn a new ui all over again. It’s pretty stupid.

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