March 7, 2013
New Facebook News Feed Aims To Give Every User “Personalized Newspaper”
Michael Harper for redOrbit.com — Your Universe Online
Just as expected, Facebook unveiled their redesigned News Feed today, bringing dedicated feeds, larger pictures, and a more unified experience between desktop and mobile browsing services. The social giant is pitching this new design as a way to get rid of all the clutter on the current News Feed as well as give casual Facebookers a chance to skim their feeds for all the latest updates from their friends.Typical of other Facebook releases, the updated News Feed will slowly roll out to the web starting today, and mobile users should begin seeing this News Feed over the next few weeks. Users can also proactively sign up to be one of the first to use News Feed.
"What we're trying to do is give everyone in the world the best personalized newspaper we can," said CEO Mark Zuckerberg in the short and sweet press conference held in Menlo Park, California today. The entire event lasted less than half an hour.
As explained by TechCrunch earlier this week, the new layout includes larger images and uploaded photos. Facebook has also “blown-up” the images of maps and news articles seen on the feed. For instance, when a friend checks into a restaurant, a larger and wider map image will appear in the News Feed. Similarly, shared articles will feature a larger image and description. Users will also have greater control over which kind of feed they want to see.
The traditional News Feed will remain, with posts and stories listed in chronological order. Users can also see a feed dedicated to the music their friends are listening to, thanks to third party apps like Rdio and Spotify. Facebookers will also be able to see a dedicated feed for photos, complete with images of last weekend´s festivities and Instagram pictures of their friends´ most recent meals.
Finally, users can select a feed of those bands, businesses, celebrities, news sources and organizations they want to follow on Facebook. This feed will contain posts from the pages of these groups, complete with larger images and richer stories.
Before Facebook announced the redesign, many suspected the social giant was updating the News Feed merely to appease advertisers, giving them larger ads and a more up-front presence. Chris Struhar, the lead engineer behind the redesign, denied these claims saying the only motivation was to make the site less cluttered and more unified.
"One of the consistent themes we heard in feedback from people was that it felt cluttered and that there was [a] lot happening on the page," explained Struhar speaking to the BBC.
"This redesign doesn't change anything about how people interact with ads on Facebook. We aren't changing where adverts show up or what ads you see. We're just trying to take all the content that you do see and make that bigger and more immersive and more engaging."
Another key part to the update is bringing the same look to both desktop and mobile users. Until now, these two experiences have been much different. Other web-based companies like Apple, Google and Yahoo have also reconfigured their offerings to bring users a unified experience across all platforms. What´s left to be seen is how well these changes will be received by the social network´s users. Facebookers don´t often take kindly to any layout change on the site, particularly since the introduction of the new timeline last year.
With a new and highly publicized report about the waning “cool effect” of Facebook, it will be interesting to see whether these changes bring a spark of fresh momentum back to the site or if they will act as the final straw for millions of users who are already on the fence about leaving the service altogether.