Just prior to the Mark Zuckerberg’s interview of 60 Minutes in the US they rolled out their new profile refresh. It is interesting that Facebook is using its own social graph platform to spread who in your circle of friends has chosen to upgrade to their new interface. I was interested as when I first looked at 7:15pm only 12 of my friends had upgraded their account to the new profile but it seems that a new friend is upgrading about ever 5 minutes and if this rate stays constant my entire group of friends will have transitioned over to the new platform within the next 10 hours. If the rate of acceptance is even off by a zero and it takes 100 hours for all my friends to upgrade their profile it has been a very successful product refresh for Facebook, as if you haven’t upgraded you just have to click the green button shown below. Overall it seems to be a nice refresh and a fairly successful launch initially with no known or public privacy or usability bugs yet.
Facebook sells the interface as a single quick snapshot summary of who you are, where you are and what you have been doing, but they also have a strong emphasis on sharing your experiences by their Facebook Places platform. The new profile is a nice refresh and you can see a screenshot below is much more visual and perfect for the increasing range of touch screen and tablet devices that people are using to access social media. But as some journalists point out unless you have a stream of photos and are regularly tagged your profile might be a bit static, but there is an increased focus on your personal interests and even a separate panel for family members. The ability to highlight meaningful relationships such as best friends, coworkers or family seems to go back to Myspace’s top friend widget which encouraged friends to visually display who they thought were their best friends. I don’t see this widget as an additional feature but more so a game metric to encourage you to further expand the amount that Facebook knows about your off-line social interactions.
It is interesting is that Facebook is learning it’s lessons from angry users who don’t know how to use their constantly changing interface and is now offering a tutorial notification that steps you through how to add more personal details to you profile. The 5 step process again is a way for Facebook to sneakily gather more details or fill gaps that is has about your profile such as ensuring your Facebook Bio is up to date to apparently give friend’s the most current information about you.
The new profile tour system is actually fairly easy and self-explanatory the only problem is that you need to go through the process before you can then go back and make changes, it would have been great if it progressively stepped you through filling in missing details.
The new interface does have the option to hide unwanted/embarrassing or non-relevant tagged photos from your profile stream and your friends then have to dig through your photo albums to find them and comment. It would be great if this feature was also rolled out to your Facebook friend’s that you don’t regularly talk to but often show up on your profile, you don’t need to be reminded on a daily basis who you are still friends with.
The tour is touches on the disappearance of the profile tabs and the replacement with 5 small links: Wall, Info, Photos, Notes, Friends. Below is the updated education and work section that seeks to make the information on your profile much more visual but it’s still showing the Wikipedia style pages for a number of companies. The strange point is that some of these companies/employers have been on Facebook for over 3 years and still they haven’t been claimed by the organisation.
What is actually interesting is that the new platform actually encourages you to add back in your interests as you get nice little visual icons to represent what you are interested in which is better than the previous interface which just listed text. You will notice in your news feed that any friend who has upgraded to the new platform is actually actively adding in missing details to their profile so the new interface will certainly please advertisers who are able to better target consumers again via Facebook Ads.
It is interesting to see what Facebook has scheduled for those how are not manually upgrading to their new interface and what will happen if you don’t like the new platform as once you upgrade you cannot go back to the old interface. Facebook has approached the rollout with some more planning this time and seems to have also managed to successfully redesign their interface without too much early push back from users. They are rolling out the new profile to everyone slowly but they offer users the ability to jump the queue and upgrade early here.