Archives for posts with tag: design

In my last post I declared the future is not feeds. Then, Facebook implemented Ticker — an additional feed of your friends’ activity.

Conceptually, I think there’s some merit to it, but in it’s current state, Ticker doesn’t achieve its intent. Plus, visually I think it’s too cluttered. Nonetheless, Ticker and some other changes from F8 show Facebook is making an effort to solve a growing problem.

The problem, as I mentioned in my previous post, is that the News Feed has too much data and not enough context. Ticker aims to be a lightweight stream of your friends’ activity — songs they listen to, things they like, comments they make, people they connect with. The News Feed has “Top Stories” and more compiled activity.

However, the dual feed fails when it shows the same items, especially at the same time. I’m hoping this won’t happen when there are more Open Graph apps sharing general activity in Ticker (“Your friend is listening to a song”) and composite stories in News Feed (“3 of your friends listened to an artist”).

The News Feed algorithm definitely appears to have improved, and I look forward to Facebook being even more selective about what to show there. (Note: I have disabled Better Facebook to get a true sense of how the platform has been working since F8.)

What should happen is the Ticker publishes live, or near live, stories that are created automatically by people’s engagement with various apps. The News Feed then is a place for actively shared items and composite stories. And Facebook shouldn’t hesitate to cut some of its own stories (profile photo changes, people becoming friends with each other, people going to events, checking in) unless there is high affinity between users or if the event or checkin is nearby. Otherwise that data should be saved and presented when it’s more relevant.

What Facebook has done with Spotify and other music apps is a great start to organizing data in a way similar to what I’ve been envisioning. There are more items that could be added to the music dashboard (page likes, mentions, events) and more dashboards that could be created (movies, news, restaurants), but it still bodes well for a future beyond the feed.

Regardless of whether you like the new Facebook profile layout, you have to commend the company for accomplishing so much with what, on its surface, seems like a design change. In reality, Facebook has done far more to secure its position as the top social network and provide advertisers with better targeting options.

Just a week ago, I was thinking about how Facebook profiles have lost much of their significance. In the pre-News Feed days, profiles were all there were, and people took care to prepare them accordingly. With the addition of fan pages and the Like button, profiles became ever-evolving without active editing. My profile is no longer a perfectly polished version of how I want you to see me, but it doesn’t matter because my friends and I aren’t interacting on each other’s profile pages as often anyway. More commonly, we’re doing this directly from News Feed.

So, just when people were starting to neglect their profiles, Facebook went and made them relevant again, if for no other reason than to make sure your information was up to date. Why? So ads work better.

The new features that allow you to add details about projects you worked on, sports you played, athletes you like, teams you support and people who inspire you are all meant to target ads more effectively. People are adding information they wouldn’t have thought to include before. This is good news for marketers and good news for Facebook.

Additionally, allowing more work and education details, along with languages you speak, gives Facebook some Linked-In-like qualities, which are needed to make Facebook an option for professional networking.

Then there’s the ability to highlight certain friends on your profile. At first, this sounds like a sophomoric feature like MySpace’s Top 8. But this actually isn’t a case of Facebook pandering to a particular demographic. This is Facebook’s clever way of getting people to make friend lists. As the social network expands to include friends and family, ‘how do you do?’ and ‘how do I know you?’ people are going to need to clearly control what they share with whom. The ‘featured relationships’ feature is a smart move toward helping people get to that point. When people feel confident with Facebook privacy settings, they will share more, which again, will help Facebook and advertisers.

One final note, the new layout turns Facebook ads horizontal with the body copy running next to the image rather than beneath it. This lets Facebook serve four ads more clearly above the scroll than the vertical layout did. It also removes the line between a person’s wall and sponsored content, making ads look more a part of the profile. This could be a boon for advertisers as well.

What do you think of the redesign?