A Look at the Facebook Redesign
The new Timeline is Facebook's most innovative and radical update yet
24 Sep, 2011 11:37
Yesterday I was granted early access to Facebook’s new profile interface, called Timeline. It’s without a doubt Facebook’s most radical redesign yet, and like all Facebook changes, it’s sure to have vocal opposition from some.
With new competitors in the social networking arena, Facebook has taken a large leap in re-envisioning your social life on the web. Whereas the first-generation Facebook had certain information boundaries, the new Timeline encourages you to share every detail of your life: birth (where you can even add a photo…I skipped that part), relationships, broken bones, illness, a new job, military service, pets, kids, loss of a loved one, travel; the options are shockingly detailed.
Many Facebook feature upgrades and redesigns have seemed the haphazard work of some geeky engineers. Most recently, the company backtracked on its idea to keep the Chat sidebar always visible on the right, yet show only people it thought you might want to talk to.
Facebook Timeline shows a noticeable departure from that trend, with careful visual execution that demonstrates true emphasis on the user experience. The first thing users will notice is the Cover, a full-width banner at the top of your profile. Here, the user chooses an image that best reflects their life. I picked one of my friends and I spending a hot summer day in the pool. The impact of this enormous billboard is immediate and truly emotional when done right.
Beneath the redesigned banner is the Timeline. Here, Facebook has taken its wealth of information about your life from the moment of your account creation and created a full timeline of your interactions. Active Facebook users may be surprised to revisit previous years of photos, wall posts, and events they had long forgotten. Timeline is very nostalgic, providing a virtual library of old memories that scroll endlessly down the screen.
Privacy advocates may argue that Timeline has gone a step too far in providing access to other peoples’ lives. True, Timeline does facilitate creeping. But it also serves to remind us just how much data we share with Facebook’s servers. In its effort to compete with Google+, Facebook has developed advanced privacy controls that allow for fine-tuning at the post level. If that’s not enough to assuage the privacy-concerned, they’ll have little recourse – Timeline goes live system-wide on September 30th.
With increased emphasis on photos and a more visually pleasing interface, Timeline shows a refreshing new commitment to the user experience. As users spend a longer part of their lives on Facebook, the site has adapted from what was simply a college social tool to a full digital record of your life.
To learn more about Timeline, visit www.facebook.com/about/timeline.