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Facebook face-lift

Aaron Steiner | Monday, September 15, 2008

Facebook got an update.

Personally, I like it. To be honest, there’s little I could do about it if I hated it. And actually, I jumped on the bandwagon a few weeks ago when they began the “trial period” before the final switch occurred.

But of course, glancing at my News Feed over the weekend, in between the “GOOO IRISH! wooooOO! IRISH 2-0!” and weather-related status updates, there are quite a few “so-and-so hates the new facebook” or “so-and-so wants the old Facebook back.” People are resisting the change and want the old way back.

Like every good non-issue that somebody wants to protest, there are already multiple Facebook groups about it. Seriously, I think I’ve only ever joined one or two Facebook protests, and I don’t ever remember hearing that the group achieved it’s “five million members in one week!!” goal, or that they had any effect whatsoever. Something tells me the guy who believes you can get millions of people to sign up to your petition in a few days probably isn’t able to organize actual change.

But I understand the complaints. It’s natural to resist change when the current setup seems to be working fine. Maybe the ‘old Facebook’ worked for you. But it wasn’t perfect.

The biggest problem the new version fixes is the application-obsessed user’s profile page. The new version cleans up the profile page, moving the clutter to various tabs. You may find it inconvenient to use, but believe me, the real inconvenience was searching for five minutes just to find your wall. By that point, I’m likely to have given up looking. You probably missed the chance to get my message just so you could show me your 62 bumper stickers, your favorite drinks, your record Jetman score, who thinks you’re a hottie, your Zombie type, your Shakespeare quote of the week, and the dumb graffiti about inside jokes I don’t understand.

Now I can find your wall in a few seconds. That alone is worth the change.

Plus, the menus are cleaned up and condensed. The News Feed gives me more information faster and is supposedly “more relevant.” On the face, these should all be good changes, and in action, they are.

Ultimately, there’s little you can do. Users were outraged when the News Feed was introduced, but aside from tweaking the settings a little bit, they didn’t do much about it. People adjusted. I bet you’d be outraged today if your News Feed disappeared.

The same goes for the most recent face-lift. Most people are thrown a curveball by the change, a few hundred thousand will protest, but the change will stay. Perhaps they’ll take some suggestions and tweak things. Maybe they’ll lose a few thousand or even million users, but it won’t even make a dent in the 100 million user base. Give it a few days, and the outrage will subside.

And I would bet that a few months from now, it’d be going back to the old version that would make you really outraged.