facebook changes, not the end of the world as we know it.

You may have heard somewhere that the Facebook home page was redesigned again. (#sarcasm) While I find it cluttered and imperfect, and have to relearn some of the usability yet again, amid the scrambling you’ll find elements of what makes the social-media site successful.

Say this much for Facebook: As an organization, it’s never satisfied with the status quo. You can say its new status line is essentially emulating Twitter, but isn’t adapting to competitive market forces something we value in organizations? You can fault the decisions made — and I did sign up for just about every I Hate The New Facebook petition and group the previous time — but you can’t fault Facebook’s dedication to continuous product improvement.

If you’ve ever been in on a site design, you’ll know it’s no easy process (I have been, and the three hours I spent in a dentist’s chair last week was less painful). Facebook, if nothing else, is certainly challenging its designers and programmers to keep it fresh. Unlike MySpace’s myriad potential layouts (virtually all of them ugly), Facebook’s CMS offers one unifying look. Generally it’s crisp and clean, and while the new one seems more confusing at first glance, it’s still better organized that so many other sites. If the layout isn’t always intuitive, the basic content itself remains simple, easy-to-understand and economical in its phrasing.

Moreover, one benefit of Facebook’s tinkering is it keeps us talking about good Web design. To paraphrase jurist Potter Stewart’s famous line about not being to be able to define obscenity, but knowing it when he saw it, we can say the same about Web design. Not many of us are experts on the subject, but we know what we do and don’t like in terms of Web page ease of us. With its seemingly continuous redesigns, Facebook enables wide-ranging discussions on usability in real time.

And besides, if you don’t like this version, you can bet Facebook will change it up again soon enough.

9 Comments

Filed under Web

9 responses to “facebook changes, not the end of the world as we know it.

  1. Hey, great post. i just found your blog and read a few of the articles and think they’re great. Very insightful and interesting to read as they pertain to the web and culture thereby created. Great stuff.

  2. Very good post. I agree that the powers that be at Facebook do keep on top of things. There’s always pros and cons to changes, but change is inevitable if you want to remain competitive in today’s world.

    Facebook has almost overtaken MySpace, and has offered options for no charge that sites like Classmates.com ask $30 a year for. There’s only so much complaining we can do about a free site!

  3. I am sorta embarrassed to admit that I’ve gotten rather fond of FaceBook. I avoided it for a very long time but I find I spend more and more of my online time there now. Since I figured out how to make it more private, I like it better.

    I know what you mean about bad web design. I’ve noticed that allowing people to put their own “designs” (ala MySpace and Xanga) has really shown that most people don’t know what makes good design. Full color photographic backgrounds with microscopic neon colored text is really not a great choice.

    Insightful as always, Tim.

  4. I don’t mind the new layout, but what’s bugging me (and my computer) is its glitches. Updating my status has frozen not just Firefox but my entire computer. Logging in, I’ve not been able to type in my email address. Things like that I find extremely frustrating. But, I think the new layout does have its merits (esp. love the rounded corners on the photos) and once the glitches smooth out I’m sure it will be great.

  5. insidetimshead

    KRISTA: Thanks for the virtual visit! I try to keep some interesting reading material, even if the rug’s not always clean.

    JENNIFER: Agreed. I know people complain about it … but has anyone left FB cuz of changes? No one I know about. Could be worse. Could be MySpace. Period.

    LORRIEANN: Hello, my name is Tim and I’m a Facebook-holic. I can’t stand people who put designs behind their Xangas to make their blog entries unreadable. And they didn’t understand this was a problem? MySpace is pretty unreadable under any condition.

    LAURA: I will fault Facebook on making its pages take longer to load, probably because of all the media includes on the pages. I’m hoping they’re trying to streamline that cuz sometimes it’s slow going for me. But it’s likely something they can work out soon.

  6. The one thing that I have heard is that the new changes do make it much harder to use facebook from a slower connection such as dialup. Anyway, there’s 3 bets so far that I know about. hashtag is #facebookredesignpool

  7. ERIC: I think the pages being more media rich and calling more other pages — because of the increase in linked content and RSS — makes it slower. And while you did start the voting, I started the #facebookredesignpool hashtag! Ha.

  8. Well, your vote was the first public one as well, it was just my silly idea.

  9. Pingback: Facebook: clutter vs. conversation. « InsideTimsHead

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