Yesterday, Facebook changed thier layout. To many Facebook users, it seems like they broke it. Just take a peek at the #newfacebook hashtag on twitter. You’d think Facebook started asking for a blood sacrifice. Its awful, its confusing, things are in different places and it really doesn’t make any sense. But really, it does. Read on…
What did change?
There are 3 super important changes in the News Feed that Facebook rolled out yesterday. A real-time ticker (the stalker bar in the upper right), changed friends lists, and the addition of the Subscribe button. There were some subtle cosmetic changes, and some features were moved around…which I think is what set people to screaming so bad on launch. Facebook did LOOK way different when you logged in. Also they changed the way Facebook posts from PAGES to your news feed, which I will talk about in its own post. So what is so cool about those three main new features?
A scrolling news feed next to my news feed, really?
At first look, the new real-time ticker (which I will henceforth refer to as the stalker bar) seems superfluous. I already have a news feed to tell me when people do things, why do I need another? If you are an occasional user of Facebook, or a ‘Status poster’, you really don’t need this that badly. For those of us who interact on Facebook consistently, the stalker bar allows conversations to happen in real-time. The news feed and Facebook’s notifications are historically slow (and we all know how buggy the notifications can be). Using Facebook but not on the News Feed? (playing a game perhaps??) Now with the stalker bar, you can see in realtime if someone comments on a post you are interacting with…hover over the item, and you can interact with it right there. While playing with NEWFacebook yesterday, I was catching stuff in the stalker bar that was taking up to 5 minutes to show up in my feed or on my notifications. The stalker feed is mostly noise, and once you get used to it living in its corner, you’ll be able to filter it out and it won’t seem so ‘OOOH I’M SHINY WATCH ME’. But if you do get into a great conversation, or a heated debate on Facebook, you can use it to watch for activity on that post, right when it happens.
But I never used Friend Lists before, why now?
Facebook has always had the ability to divide your friends up into lists, but before yesterday its been something that you actually had to sit down and go through your friends list person by person and create. Now Facebook makes Friends lists dynamically based on stuff you like, your hometown, people you interact with most, etc and suggests users for it. It also put these lists on your left sidebar so you can access them quickly. You can create any lists that you want, but a great way to figure out what they are is to look at the ones Facebook has already created for you. Like Circles in Google+, lists on Facebook can give you another level of privacy for sharing. Friends with your Boss on Facebook, but have to vent about work…post a vent to your ‘Close Friends’ list and your boss won’t see it (provided he’s not ON that list).
Subscribe? Can’t I just Friend them?
With most people on Facebook, you can just ‘Friend’ them and move on…but what about Celebrities, A-List Bloggers, or Musicians who you may want to get updates from, but aren’t really interested in being their ‘Friend’. Enter ‘Subscribe’. Instead of asking to be someone’s Friend, you can simply Subscribe to their feed, and anything public they post will show up in your News feed. For people who have a personal/business relationship with Facebook, this choice is awesome! I can now keep my Friend’s list down to the ~250-300 people that I really know, but by allowing subscriptions to my Facebook profile, anything that I label public can be seen by anyone who wants to subscribe. The implications of this for people who use Facebook as a marketing tool deserves (and will get) a post of its own. Like lists, this is another way that Facebook is giving users control over who sees what you post.
Two other little tweaks that warm my geek heart
The top blue menubar is finally sticky! Facebook has teased me with this upgrade for MONTHS. I love not having to scroll back up to click on the notifications. For those of us that admin pages, you can now access those pages from the left sidebar. And they are ordered by activity. YAY! I never understood why they made it so hard to switch to admin-ing your page. This slight tweak makes it dead easy.
So this means they’re going to keep it this way for a while, right?
No. Today is Facebook’s big f8 Developer Conference. Facebook is expected to announce more big changes to the platform. The changes that rolled out today are a start, but they are not done. Mashable.com writer Ben Parr had this to say, in his article today:
The [additional] changes Facebook will roll out on Thursday are designed to enhance the emotional connection its users have to each other through Facebook. These changes will make Facebook a place where nearly everything in your life is enhanced by your social graph. These changes will make it so you know your friends better than you ever thought you could.
Personally, I can’t wait to see where they go next.
What do you think of the changes? How was your first day on NEWFacebook?