9 Things to Know About the New Facebook Profile Redesign

Sometime in early June, Facebook will roll out its newly redesigned profiles. The clutter of 3rd party Facebook applications and the risk of becoming as messy as MySpace, among a myriad of other reasons, sparked the change. A lot is coming with the new profiles, so I’m here to enlighten you with 10 things that you should know about the new Facebook profile redesign.

So here are 9 things you should know about the new Facebook Profile Redesign:

1) Mini Feed: Now Front and Center

When you click on a friend, the first thing that appears isn’t their contact or personal information, but their mini-feed. The change is meant to make it easier for friends to see the updates, new applications, and changes they make in a more dynamic and prominent way. From Chamath Palihapitiya, Facebook VP of Product Marketing:

“We see this big trend. People are publishing feeds all the time, and the point is, people are increasingly telling a narrative, and we want to make that easier for our users to do. And we want people to consume that narrative more easily.”

Overall, Facebook’s new design, as you will see, encourages people to tinker and change their profiles more and thus add more items to their news and mini feeds. So expect much more news feed in your life.

2) Tabs – The Reorganized Facebook Profile

Information is divided into tabs now, rather than the boxes of old. Tabbing has become the standard of web browsers and thus tabs are intuitive for most users. It also divides information into more manageable pieces. I’m very pleased with the tab organization: it’s clean and uncluttered now.

The tabs are as follows:

  • Feed: This is your starting point on any profile, and it shows the individual’s mini-feed, fare more than just the most recent 10: the mini-feed goes back several days.
  • Info: Your personal information, interests, work experience, etc. is placed into this section of the profile. It’s interesting that Facebook has not chosen to make this the default tab when visiting profiles.
  • Wall: Your wall is bigger, better, and more prominent.
  • Photos: Photos and your albums get prime placement. Read about it in item #3
  • Boxes: All of your Facebook applications are placed here in order to avoid the clutter. It’s divided into a narrow and wide column, just like the current Facebook profiles (although the narrow column has flipped to the left-hand side now).

3) Photos are getting their own tab. Here’s why:

Facebook starts you off with five tabs, and one of them is going to be Photos. Why did Facebook choose this, out of all other possibilities, to be featured as a tab on every user’s profile? Well, beyond that it is Facebook’s most popular application (14 million photos a day) and Facebook is the world’s largest photo-sharing website (6 billion+ photos total), Facebook believes featuring it could “blow it up” and make it an even more popular piece of Facebook.

4) You can create new tabs for your favorite Facebook Applications

As you see, there are five tabs. But from what I’ve heard, you can actually have up to eight. Three additional tabs can be added to feature your favorite Facebook applications. A HUGE Scrabbulous fan? Make it into an easy-to-click tab. Big on photos and videos? Give FriendQuilts prominent placement.

Certain applications are going to flourish under the new system. But there’s a lot of worry that most applications will suffer and their usage and install rates will drop. Let’s talk about that.

5) A lot of Facebook Applications Developers are scared about the impact of the new design

Inside Facebook gathered some preliminary opinions from application developers on the new design. Although a few expressed some enthusiasm and appreciation for the redesign, a great deal more have expressed some nervousness. I’ve spoken with a few developers (note: I work for a company that is developing Facebook apps) and the overall feeling is that applications are going to be hurt by the redesign. With applications off the landing profile page, users will be less inclined to look at or use applications on their friends’ profiles. This makes it harder for small budget application developers to break through in an already shrinking Facebook application market space.

I’m going to be watching the traffic stats for Facebook applications very carefully when the changes are rolled out. I expect a great deal of adjustment pains for the developer community. It will be interesting to see which applications thrive in the new profile scheme. There’s going to be some new superstar apps that benefit from prominent tab placement.

6) Advertising’s going to be in a more prominent location. Facebook will cash in.

I’m stunned that the major blogs have not been talking about this important item. Just look at all of that free space on the left side of the profile (I’ve highlighted it in red).

There’s only one thing Facebook is going to do with that glorious space: ads! The ads will certainly be higher up on the page and will have more space to occupy. Facebook, which is estimated to make between $265 million to $305 million this year, might blast past those estimates because of a giant increase in click-through due to the new ad location. This may actually be the most important part of the redesign.

Facebook says its focus is on the clutter of the redesign, but its focus may really have been to push up the ad revenue. If so, I commend Facebook for its ingenuity.

(note: in the demo, you can squeeze that white space out if you shorten your browser’s width. However, I believe that in the final version, the space I highlighted will have ads)

7) Inline editing makes it easier to change your info

Feel like adding Battlestar Galactica to your list of favorite movies? You used to have to load several pages in order to do that. Now, all you have to do is click edit and an ajax dropdown appears, allowing you to edit the page without ever leaving your profile page!

This feature is very smart and very slick. It will encourage users to edit their information more often, making news and mini-feed items appear more often and making Facebook more interesting.

8) Prefieres Español? It’s easier than ever to change languages

Did you know Facebook comes in 10 languages now? No? Well, I’m not surprised because the option to change languages is not readily apparent currently. With the new design, it’s easily done in the bottom left of any Facebook page. Click it, and the list of languages appears. Choosing and switching is now a click away, rather than hidden within your preferences. Facebook’s out to become a stronger international platform as it saturates the U.S. market. This is a tiny change that could really help.

9) Facebook is now designed like a web browser. Or an operating system

A few of the blogs picked up on the interesting design of the redesigned Facebook profiles. Just take a look at the TechCrunch comparison, for example, which shows how the interface of the new Facebook profiles is similar to the Mac OS.

For me, it’s similar to Firefox, IE, Safari, or any web browser you use. Menu items on the left and search on the right.

It’s no secret that Facebook is trying to become the one-stop shop destination of the web. Facebook wants you to use the site for almost all of your social internet needs. Designing the website like an operating system is just evidence of this desire.

There’s plenty more that will change with the profile redesign. I’m looking forward to see if (and how) they have improved Facebook messaging/email and what tweaks they’ve done to Facebook search. This is a major overhaul to assure that user dissatisfaction doesn’t grow. Will the new changes blow up into controversy like News Feed or will they pass over relatively well like the Facebook application platform? We’ll know soon enough.