Facebook is rolling out yet another new look, and before you start complaining, hear me out. The changes the company announced at its press event today are all pretty positive.
A more visual, image-centric design, doing away with the useless 3-column look, letting you filter by specific types of content. It’s all stuff users should be able to appreciate. (In fact, the event was actually pretty light on news in terms of how the company would profit off the new changes.)
I’ll get into what I like about the new changes in a second. But first, take a look.
As Zuckerberg put it today, “The types of stories that we tell when we’re communicating with a photo.” And as the graph in the slideshow above illustrates, those are increasingly the types of stories that are being told on the platform. Moreover, as anyone who publishes content to Facebook can attest, an image is almost the equivalent of a headline on Facebook. It’s the advertisement that invites users to click. So it’s no surprise that Facebook has emphasized images even more in its redesign.
More Real Estate for the Main Feed
In part inspired by designing for mobile, the new news feed will devote a bit more real estate to the news feed. The current design wastes a bunch of space splitting itself into three columns, and the company said today what most of us can relate to – that users consistently only really care about what’s going on in the main feed. Eliminating the left hand column as it currently exists is a freebie in the sense that no one really bothers with it and it doesn’t have any ads.
More Than One Feed, aka Better Filters
This, to me, is the biggest and most welcome news we heard today. Facebook will now allow you to filter your news feed in several ways including: just photos, just friends, just updates from Pages you’ve liked, just events, or just music.
I’ve wanted for a long time to be able to filter my news feed by music in order to discover new artists. That’s now possible. I can select the “Music” feed in the top right – via a pulldown on mobile – and see just the music my friends are listening to, updates from any artists I’ve Liked, and upcoming concerts I might like. This is a welcomed addition.
I also like the ability to filter between the two major ways I use Facebook: to keep up with friends and to find content. Shifting between two separate feeds can be more pleasant than seeing them both in one column.
The Potential for Many Feeds
There wasn’t much said about what any of this would do for Facebook’s business, though in some basic sense more engagement by users because of the more visually pleasing design and additional features is good for business. However, I can’t help but think that the expanded feeds offers some interesting sponsorship opportunities. Theoretically, Pandora should be able to buy advertising against just my Music feed, the selection of which functions as some amount of intent. When I’m there, it’s because I want to find new music. That seems to have at least some value. (Though Graph Search will likely end up being bigger here.)
The other thing that came to mind was the creation of new types of feeds, either by me or by Facebook. Say last October I wanted an Election feed that had updates from politicians and news outlets I liked, plus content or statuses my friends shared about politics. It seems well within Facebook’s power to create such a feed, either so users could see just that, or in plenty of cases so they could opt out of seeing it on other feeds. With the Graph Search technology in play, this kind of customization should be possible. It’ll be interesting to see what they do with it.
That’s it for me in terms of first thoughts.
Image via Shutterstock/Sarawut Aiemsinsuk