Earlier today, Facebook has announced its Timeline redesign of the user profile page. It’s a design unlike any other in Facebook’s history as it does not focus only on adding more functionality – and clutter. Its goal is to make things more readable, easier to navigate, while at the same time opening the door to more complex and engaging apps/widgets. Instead of describing feature, I will let you watch a video demo, then I will tell you why I think that this is not only a great design, but a great idea.
When Timeline was presented on-stage, I was genuinely surprised because this particular update was in effect removing many unused things from the profile page like the navigation on the left side (apps…) and putting important things (friends, photos, like activity) front and center.
Because timeline uses two columns on a PC, it effectively lets users share more things within an efficient layout. From there my friends can scroll down to check older updates, and only the most popular (by comments/likes) updates show up. It’s simple, but it works. I’m very satisfied with the way Facebook’s Graph Rank works.
Apps, front and center
Let’s face it: previous integration of apps were fairly invasive to the user experience in the profile in my opinion. With Timeline, this is going to change. Why? Simply because apps don’t take a permanent spot in the profile page, they are “events” that come and go just like any other update. That’s a really good idea, and I think that Facebook really deserve props for it. Because of that, I suspect that users won’t mind using more apps and for app developers, it will give them many more opportunities to be useful and visible in the world’s largest social network.
Google+ behind, Twitter beyond the horizon
There’s no question that the arrival of Google+ has shaken things up, and that’s great for end-users because both Facebook and Google will continue to fight for your time. I think that being pro-Facebook or pro-Google is somewhat fruitless, I happen to use and enjoy both, but it’s fair to say that today, Facebook has taken the lead, and the initiative, leaving Google+ behind – for now. As for Twitter, it looks as if their path is getting steeper by the day as the service has not really improved in a fundamental way for a long time. In my view, Twitter lacks the engineering and infrastructure muscles that both Google and Facebook have.
Good design works
Earlier, I said that I was surprised that Facebook came up with the Timeline design, but I’m glad they did, and it is a very good sign that the company does care about good design, because this should only be the first step in a series of improvements that should go beyond the profile and in all aspects of Facebook.
This works really for everyone: the user gets a better navigation and experience. Facebook gets a good shot at inciting users to invest even more time into Facebook to fill-in the blanks between “date you were born” to 2006 or so. App developers will get much more visibility than before. Everything makes Facebook a stronger social network than before Timeline.
While the new design is sure to make a few people unhappy, my sense is that most users will embrace it, and while Facebook will allow folks to not switch for some time, everyone will eventually have to switch to the new profile page, so as usual it’s a “like it or leave it” proposition that has worked so far for Facebook.
Now, Facebook itself has recognize that they don’t know what is going happen next – it’s up to you to decide. What will you do with Timeline? Will you go back and add data from your childhood, or continue using Facebook as usual?