Tuesday, 25 March 2014

Facebook Fails Again with New Redesign

The past few weeks Facebook has been rolling out a new design for its news feed and the web site in general. One reason for this redesign is so that the desktop version of the site and the mobile version will look more alike. Another reason is so that Facebook will be easier to use across various platforms (at least that's the theory). Unfortunately, as usual, Facebook's redesign for the web site leaves a bit to be desired in my opinion.

Much of my problem with the redesign are changes that Facebook has made to the navbar. On the old navbar (at least for those of us without Graph Search) Friend Requests, Messages, and Notifications were all on the left side, with Settings, Privacy Settings, and the link to one's profile on the right. With this new redesign Friend Requests, Messages, and Notifications have all been moved to the right, along with Settings, Privacy Settings, and one's profile link. To me this is a big mistake, and not simply because Friend Requests, Messages, and Notifications have been on the left for years. Quite simply, in languages that are read from the left to right (which are the majority of languages spoken in Europe, North America, and South America), there is a natural tendency when looking at a printed page or a computer screen for the eye to go immediately towards the upper, left side. It then seems much more convenient to me to have Friend Requests, Messages, and Notifications on the left side of the navbar where they are going to be much more easily seen.

Indeed, even if there wasn't a natural tendency for the eye to go towards the left side of the screen (at least in the case of speakers of languages written from left to right) I think moving Friend Requests, Messages, and Notifications to the right side of the navbar is still a mistake. Quite simply, the right side of the navbar is now crowded. Friend Requests, Messages, and Notifications are on the right along with Settings, Privacy Settings, one's profile link, and a totally superfluous Home button (it takes one to the news feed). This makes the right side of the navbar rather crowded, so it's not quite as easy to, say, click on one's Notifications or Messages (so much for the redesign being "easier" to use).

Another problem with the new redesign is that Facebook has now placed an absolutely huge header image above one's custom lists. The header image is randomly chosen from one's friends' various cover images and changes from time to time. Not only is the header image wholly unnecessary, but it forces one to scroll down a little bit to read  posts. I think I can speak for most Facebook users when I say that when we visit our lists we want to read posts, not look at randomly chosen cover images. This is actually the part of the redesign that irritates me the most and I hope Facebook removes the header images immediately.

Fortunately, the redesign of the news feed itself is not nearly as bad as the redesign of the navbar or custom lists. That having been said, it could have been better. Namely, Facebook really did not have to make images larger. At the size that images are in the redesign it seems to me that it could be all too easy for individuals to overlook status updates, links, and videos. Indeed, I'm thinking that status updates could be all too easily lost among the pictures. Here I must note that this was a problem on Google+ until they adjusted the size of links upwards!

For those of you who do not have the redesign yet, I am happy to inform you that they did not change the look of personal profiles. I am glad of this, as I am happy with the way profiles look now and I would not change much about them. And I have to say that given Faceook's history with regards to personal profiles, any changes they might make could be much, much worse (can anyone say, "Double column Timeline"?)

Over all the Facebook redesign is not horrible. I don't think it will cause the waves of outrage that previous redesigns have caused. That having been said, there are things about it that could be much better. The navbar should be changed back to something like it once was, with Friend Requests, Messages, and Notifications on the left side. And they should definitely do away with the header photos above custom lists, which I find outright annoying. Facebook has been a bit more responsive to user demands than they once were, so perhaps we might see changes to the redesign in the near future. One can only hope so.


Jandy Hardesty said...

I'm not sure I understand...you say notifications, messages, friend requests moved to the right side of the nav bar? They've been there for a long time for me - just to the right of the search bar. At least a year or more.

Terence Towles Canote said...

My FB is set to English UK. They didn't switch the friend requests, messages, and notifications over to the right until the revamp for it. :-(