The new Facebook, a preview
Every once in a while, Facebook alters its design, causing complaints to litter one’s newsfeed. “The old Facebook was fine,” users protest, “Why fix something that isn’t broken?” Brace yourselves—the biggest change yet is coming. Cadenza gained early access to the newest change, the “timeline” feature, and here are our thoughts.
The significant revisions concern the user’s profile. All the elements of the previous versions remain: profile pictures, wall posts, personal information, photos and friends lists are still there. Their presentation, though, has changed significantly. The profile picture is now a small square dwarfed by a new feature, the cover photo. The cover is a banner that adorns the top of the profile. Its addition permits more personality to the profile, especially when contrasted to the bland uniformity of older profiles. For the cover, some users employ photos of themselves with friends, while others opted for beautiful landscapes. Zuckerberg chose a close-up of his puppy, Beast. The cover has a lot of potential and is a welcome inclusion.
Personal information constitutes the panel beneath the cover. Like previous iterations, it displays one’s school, work and residency to visitors. Facebook users can also view one’s friends, photos and likes by clicking on icons on the left. Previously, these had been tabs in the left margin beneath the profile picture. Selecting the new photos icon, for example, prompts a smooth animation transitioning from the default profile screen to a display of one’s albums and tagged photos. Clicking the likes icon not only lists the user’s favorite movies, television shows and athletes, but also allows a visitor to see when the user liked a page. For example, I liked “30 Rock” on May 3, 2010 at 2:22 am. Exact chronology is the theme of the new Facebook.
Below personal information is the timeline, which completely replaces the wall. Previously, Facebook alerted the user when a friend wrote on her wall. Now, notifications say that a friend has written on her timeline. Every piece of Facebook material—status updates, tagged photos, messages and likes—has an ordered entry on the timeline. Entries are arranged in two columns straddling a timeline down the center. To the right of the cover is another, smaller timeline. From profile activation to the present day, visitors can access any period of time on your Facebook with a click. Facebook stalkers used to need hours at time to read your dorky statuses from high school; now they’re just a few clicks away.
Facebook used to be cool and exclusive, but now literally everyone and their mom have a profile. The new features, especially the cover photo, license more personal expression. Instead of a homogenous community in which everyone looks like everyone else, the new Facebook layout better reflects preferences and experience. Every change to Facebook risks some backlash, and undoubtedly some will protest as the new alterations are implemented. Yet, consider the Facebook of early 2009, and remember how clunky and cluttered the interface was. Overall, the timeline is an improvement, and it’ll help reinforce Facebook’s status as the most prominent social network. And who knows? Maybe the timeline will make it cool again.