Getting to Grips With Facebook's News Feed Redesign
More big news from Facebook HQ yesterday, coming just months after the announcement of the new Graph Search feature.
In order to provide a less cluttered and more organised user experience, Facebook will soon be rolling out a completely redesigned News Feed.
Initial promotional screenshots are quite revealing and give a clear indication as to the direction the company is taking. It's obvious that the redesign has been made with the Graph Search in mind and so these two changes together signal one of the bigger shifts in the company's history.
Luckily here at Silicon Beach, our 2-day Social Media Course is always up to date, so you'll have no worries about getting left behind by these changes.
But what exactly is changing?
This is how Zuckerberg has described the intention behind the changes. Some are questioning the comparison but what is clear is that the redesign will bring about a more structured, delineated experience.
So the main new features of this are:
A more 'web-app' like interface -
The first thing that jumps out about this redesign is how much it seems to be drawing on both Facebook's own mobile apps and other apps, both web and native. The 'Swipeable' hidden or minimised navigation bar in particular has become a common trend in mobile web and app design; a feature in apps from Youtube to BBC Sport to Spotify.
This would appear to be a very clever move by Facebook; as the line between mobile and desktop becomes more blurred a consistent 'branded' site across all platforms is becoming more important.
Zuckerberg has said that images make up 50% of the content shared on the network and so it's no surprise then that this redesign puts them firmly at the heart of everything.
Images will now be much bigger (see below) with text actually over them (something that sounds invasive but is surprisingly not - again see below).
The image rather than the post then becomes the focal point - whether this is any way stepping on the toes of its own Instagram platform, or is an attempt to draw away some of the love from Pinterest is still unclear.
This is the main attempt from Facebook to de-clutter the news feed.
No longer will the news feed be one unsorted list of anything and everything that's going on in Facebook-land. Instead you'll have the option to pick individual feeds depending on what you're looking for.
It's still not 100% clear how many different feeds there will be but we know that will be at least one for just photos -
One for music (which includes both music being listened to by friends and the activity of any artists you follow) -
There's also a screenshot of what appears to be a games feed, although this was not included in the official announcement and a feed for pages you are following i.e. celebrities, news etc
Aside from these very specific feeds, you'll have access to more general ones like Most Recent (a Twitter-like live feed) and All Friends (nothing from pages or groups - still not clear where ads falls into this).
This whole redesign, if nothing else, just makes sense. To have consistent interfaces across platforms, to better facilitate Graph Search and most of all, to respond to one the bigger concerns of users (lack of control over what they see).
Aside from that, the design itself is sleek and just nicer to look at - it appears more spacious and more functional at the same time.
Interestingly, there was no mention of advertising in the announcement, and yet it appears that the angle the mainstream media is taking on the revamp is to debate whether it's just all about advertising and the impact bigger or more prominent ads will have on the user. We'll be taking a look at Facebook advertising more specifically on Monday.
One of the only potential flaws (aside from the current onslaught of ads/anti-ads debate which has far pre-dated the redesign) is the reality of generally low image quality on the site. When looking through my current news feed, a large percentage of the images shared would not scale up well to a bigger format.
However, this may only be an issue at first because as smartphone/camera technology continues to improve (which it will - and quickly) the level of upload quality will improve as well - just don't expect the lush 'demo' photos to be how all your friends' will appear; at least in the initial stages of roll-out.
Of course you could always come on our Photoshop Course to learn the skills you need to ensure your photos always look top notch.
In all though, the design looks to be a significant improvement: now all there is to do is wait! Although if you want access (potentially straight away from today!) then it's worth actively signing up to the waiting list - go on, you know you want to!
This might just be one of the biggest Social Media stories of the year so far - check out this post for a round-up of the biggest stories from 2012.
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