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Facebook’s New Look News Feed

This isn’t just another change to your homepage, facebook have gone all out on this one. Having learnt from their trusty sidekicks and competitors over at Twitter HQ and Google+ (the new design may be quite familiar to those of you using Google+, naughty facebook!),

The redesign was launched alongside the words: ‘Goodbye clutter, hello bright, beautiful stories’ and Facebook is making some very serious design changes because, in their words; “we wanted to clean up the page, declutter it, make it simpler, more modern and easier for people to use.” There are three fundamental changes being made to the Social Networks interface, particularly the News Feed; firstly there is the reduced number of columns from three down to only two, allowing the actual newsfeed to take up a much greater portion of the screen view and allowing larger format images and videos to take priority over text and ‘status updates.’

The new look Facebook will be consistent across mobile and desktop

Second to this this, Facebook, in all their wisdom of trying to simplify the News Feed, have ultimately over-complicated it. Gone are the days of simply having to choose between displaying the ‘Top Stories’ or ‘Most Recent’ – now there is a plethora of options for you to manipulate your news feed and what appears on it; you can still arrange it using ‘Most Recent’, or you could opt for “Photos,” “Music,” “Groups” and even “Games” – if you want to get really intimate, you can also click “see all” and select from several more options (I counted 15 in all). The question is, why? Why the need to change so much detail when trying to ‘simplify?’

Thirdly, a feature we rather like; the new design means that when multiple friends post on the same story, they all appear together with a list of those people on the left hand side. It’s a small change, but it prevents your News Feed from being overwhelmed with the same story over and over again. This also frees up more space for things like advertising.The new design is focussed on mobile usage and advertising in a big way; mobile users may not notice as much of a change in the layout but the additional features are still there, the black bar on the side is simply hidden as an optional pull-out. All this simplicity is creating more and more space on our News Feeds for advertising. I’ve already noticed the larger picture format on the News Feed simply because of the adverts now being displayed on my mobile facebook app. Adverts, no less, for other mobile apps.

Remember how annoying the pay-per-click adverts displayed in the far right hand column of your news feed are? Well, here is facebook trying to do more of the same, only bigger and better. The key question for investors and advertisers is whether these changes will influence users to read and interact with paid content more if it is displayed in the main news feed. It seems likely since there is already evidence to support this. In addition, the bigger news feed allows sponsored posts to be the largest element on the screen and organisations and people who you “follow” through ‘Likes’ will now have photographs added to each of their posts on your timeline, making their advertising more eye catching. It’s all in the design, its like a rolling ad space for bigger and better brands with more money to take up our time and clutter our social networking space. .

The newly streamlined functionality and overall look and feel of Facebook will be in keeping with this de-cluttered theme, but is it really all about the customer? Facebook insists that “The redesign doesn’t change anything about how people interact with ads on Facebook” and “It’s really a case of making sure you have high quality (Advertising) content.” But it seems to me like this is all just a swinging point to get Facebook back to the top of the pile when it comes to online advertising space. Will it work, and is it consumer friendly? Or is this just another one of those money making ploys made to look like a user-friendly system upgrade?