Tuesday, July 15, 2008

New Facebook Profile Preview

The long awaited Facebook profile redesign has seen a lot of delays but is now available for us to preview through a public beta. To access the updated profile, first log into Facebook and navigate to new.facebook.com and you will be redirected to your profile. I have encountered a few error messages and the developers are still tweaking the page format as when I logged in yesterday the profile picture was located down the right, today it has been repositioned to the left.

Firstly you will notice that instead of the single page profile that it is now divided into Tabs which are located just under your name/status. These are divided into Wall, Info, Photos, Boxes and there is a plus providing the ability to add more Tabs. The Wall/Mini Feed are the default view for your profile, although I believe for people who aren't your friends this is replaced by Info.


With the updated profile there are better customisation options available, and you can also write an About Me by clicking on the text 'Write something about yourself'. Beside any profile box you will see a small pen icon, clicking on this brings up a menu with options on what you want displayed ~

Editing the Friends Box allows you to now display more than the previous default, showing 6, 9 or 12 of your friends. You can also select to always show some friends and make the Network Section visible if you choose. Editing the Boxes is a welcome addition and is available for all of the profile boxes, this is still being worked on so what I mention could change in future but overall I am impressed with what is available.


I really like the introduction of the tabbed profile browsing as it adds organisation to what can only be described as madness from my friends who add every application. The Info Tab provides Basic, Personal information and Education, selecting Edit Information at the top of the page enables you to edit everything and to finish select Done Editing. The Photo's Tab displays photo's of you and Albums which is an improvement. Boxes is where the Applications are located, I only have a few installed/visible so my Boxes Tab isn't too overwhelming when accessed.


Clearly from the Facebook redesign the developers have imitated what is successful elsewhere. FriendFeed comparisons are obvious as combining the Wall/Mini-Feed and allowing comments on feeds is a definite nod to the FriendFeed development team. All that is missing is the ability to Like an activity/feed and you have a clone. It remains to be seen if this feature will be popular with the majority of Facebook users as so far my interaction with commenting on activity/feeds has been all one way as not one of my friends has commented on my items. Combining the Wall/Mini-Feed will make this more natural but still the issues remains about interaction and exposure! This could be addressed as like I said earlier this is still a work in progress!!


Updating our social status is huge at the moment with many services available for us to micro-blog, activity update, create announcements etc. Facebook has offered a way for us to update our friends with what we are doing for a while, the profile redesign appears to be aiming to raise the profile of this. With Facebook this is an extra but updating our status has become a large part of our interaction with our Friends across other sites. I like how this has been pushed more but it's a pity that Facebook is in a sense a walled garden as surely making this available externally would be very popular. Everyone is aware of the problems with downtime and outages affecting other sites, I can't see that being an issue for Facebook!

Overall I am really impressed with the direction the developers are taking Facebook, competition is healthy and leads to innovation. I am intrigued to see what the final build will offer and whether it will continue to offer more lifestreaming functionality. On the flip side once my friends are introduced to the new profile design I want to raise their awareness of FriendFeed which would be the obvious progression. Are my friends ready to embrace this new direction?

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