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Facebook rolling out yet another home-page redesign

Have you finally made your peace with the new home-page design Facebook launched in October? Good -- the social network is now replacing it.

facebook_icons.jpg

The new design attempts to simplify navigating to and finding a few commonly used features on the ever-expanding site, which recently collected its 400 millionth user:

  • A set of status icons near the top-left corner indicate when you have new friend requests, messages or notifications of activity relevant to your profile. Since those updates were formerly scattered across the top of the home page, this counts as a plus.

  • The search box has been moved from the top-right corner to just to the right of those status indicators. This initially confused me the most -- I've spent years shoving the cursor to that corner to do a search -- but placing it next to the icons and links I click most often should cut down on mouse mileage.

  • The old, confusing "News Feed" and "Live Feed" choices for the central column of status updates have been replaced by the clearer terms "Top News" and "Most Recent."

  • The bottom of the screen, formerly a parking lot for links to functions like your events listings, has been swept clean of everything but your chat status; all of those links are now grouped in a left-hand column underneath your profile picture. This makes sense, too.

  • But the new interface also adds redundancies: The "Requests" box in the right-hand column duplicates much of the content of the status icons and profile links at the left.

    There's more detail in a post on the Palo Alto, Calif., company's blog. (Standard disclaimers still apply: Facebook chief privacy officer Chris Kelly, now on leave to run for political office, is a friend from college. Washington Post Co. chairman and chief executive Donald E. Graham sits on Facebook's board of directors.)

    But you probably shouldn't get attached to any of these changes, given the rate of turnover in Facebook home-page layouts. Since last February, the site has launched two redesigns (one in March, the other the aforementioned October renovation) upgraded its search in August, and pushed through a controversial change to its privacy defaults in December. You almost have to ask if the company has received a few American Recovery and Reinvestment Act grants to subsidize this frenzy of activity.

    How long do you think the latest redesign will last? Post your best guess in the comments, and in a few months -- or, perhaps, weeks -- we can see who came closest.

  • By Rob Pegoraro  |  February 9, 2010; 10:09 AM ET
    Categories:  Social media , The Web  
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    Comments

    While I suppose that changes to anything that has 400,000,000 users counts as news, given that 'news' is supposed to be something that doesn't happen every day, this doesn't count as news to me. FaceBook is always changing (and screwing up) something, so why is this any different?

    [Disclaimer: I am one of the 6,401,717,510 humans that doesn't have a FaceBook account.]

    Posted by: washpost86 | February 9, 2010 12:58 PM | Report abuse

    I still have the old page.

    Posted by: wiredog | February 9, 2010 1:40 PM | Report abuse

    I like the new design well enough, but it's completely non-functional and has been for two days. Facebook's bugs that accompany these changes - this time, no new/recent updates post to the Home page unless you refresh your browser 18 times, and then you'll get a different set of updates with each refresh - make the roll-outs much more painful to users than they need to be.

    I suspect that while they send the changes out, they are bringing servers up and down, and depending on what server you happen to be on at the time, you may or, more likely, may not see new posts. There's no way to know for sure what's going on, of course, since their help files are useless and outdated, and no one ever replies to the help discussions posted by users.

    Posted by: tmiller2009 | February 9, 2010 3:47 PM | Report abuse

    Yes, the new design is okay...but all the bugs make Facebook nearly useless. First content is there, then it's gone, then it's there again. The so-called "Most Recent" can be up to 6 hours old, Notifications don't always notify...it's just sporadic, intermittent and basically more crappy than it has been before the change.
    I believe it won't be very long before I just say the hell with it because it isn't worth it anymore...

    Posted by: dogfrod | February 9, 2010 4:22 PM | Report abuse

    Oh and by the way...who cares how long this facelift lasts...

    Posted by: dogfrod | February 9, 2010 4:24 PM | Report abuse

    I get the feeling that it's a big shell game purposed to distract from fb's attempts to invade its users privacy, get them to make all their information public, and take or use their intellectual property. Everything about facebook sucks except my friends who use it, and if they weren't there I'd quit it in an instant. Where's my dislike button?

    Posted by: -bwg | February 9, 2010 4:54 PM | Report abuse

    FWIW, the live feed--I mean, "Recent Items" feed--has been acting cranky for me as well this afternoon. Sometimes it refreshes itself automatically, and other times I have to reload the entire page to get it unstuck.

    One thing's for sure: I really, really, really don't envy Facebook's database architects. Not at all.

    - RP

    Posted by: Rob Pegoraro | February 9, 2010 5:16 PM | Report abuse

    I usually don't mind redesigns and new features, but Facebook is really annoying me. The new design doesn't seem really any "better" or easier than the old one? What's the point?

    And the actual workings of the Facebook page aren't working for me. I log into Facebook and it says there are no updates in the last two hours. Unlikely with 200+ friends. I hit refresh and suddenly there are 15 posts in the last two hours. Refresh again, back to no posts in the last two hours.

    Posted by: Alexander6 | February 9, 2010 5:49 PM | Report abuse

    I agree with the previous posts. The same thing happens to me. I log in, there are messages, like Rob's post, then I log in again and it's gone and I can't get it back. Disappearing posts are very frustrating, and there's no consistency--I navigate away and when I come back I can't reply because the post is gone. Having said that, I like the new format because the pesky "Notifications" area is easier to get rid of.

    Posted by: maxinea | February 9, 2010 6:12 PM | Report abuse

    Redesign is one thing, but couple that with poor performance and FB has become quite a headache. Missing posts, unable to get updates, seeing way old posts, and getting error messages....this new one is really buggy. I don't remember the other "new looks" impacting the ability to use the site like this latest round.

    Posted by: Sec131 | February 9, 2010 6:20 PM | Report abuse

    Not a fan of the redesign. I'm "one of those people" who like to use apps on Facebook. Previously, I could always access any of the apps from the link in the bottom left corner, which was permanently there. Now, I can only access them from my home page, and then only when I scroll all the way to the top. Ditto with notifications.

    Also, I created a few different friends lists so I could separate posts based on apps vs. those of real friends, and I could organize where they were located on the left hand side. Not anymore, and to get to the lists I now have to click Friends, which loads a new page, then click on the list I want to see.

    So to me, this is not as user friendly as before. Hopefully it will be redesigned again within days!

    Posted by: kenjabi | February 12, 2010 9:19 AM | Report abuse

    A few comments about the new FB layout:

    It's a little better than the previous layout, which seemed to have something in all four corners of the screen, but it's far from perfect. It's pretty far from good, even.

    "Hiding" the logout button under Account is inexcusable UI design. (Makes about as much sense as clicking "Start" to stop your computer ....)

    They've carved out giant amounts of whitespace on both sides of the screen for some unknown reason. That would have been more usable is the center (news) portion scrolled while the left and right sides remained fixed. Although only the left side has anything useful.

    When I drill down to Apps or Games, I really don't need to see dozens of other Apps or Games the my friends are using. It's all I can do to hide that crap as it pops up in my main news feed.

    Finally, FB probably should notify the apps and games developers before the next change so that the various apps and games don't break like they did with this update.

    Posted by: larrymac | February 15, 2010 11:39 AM | Report abuse

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