Facebook redesigns the News Feed

A look at the main features of Facebook's new news feed

Alex Masters
Monday 11 March 2013 12:39

Facebook have stripped back their web-based client and redesigned the entire desktop experience in an attempt to clean up the news feed and add a modern look and feel to Facebook on the web.

Overall, it seems as though they have succeeded in doing so in a way that will hopefully please its one billion-strong user base. A user base that traditionally reacts negatively whenever the social network implements any form of change to the design and functionality of the platform.

A painful history
When the news feed originally rolled out back in September of 2006, for example, many Facebook users were up in arms about the feature. This was due to the fact that their activity was now visible to anyone and everyone. CEO Mark Zuckerberg apologised publicly for the lack of privacy controls, The company reacted fast, the feature remained, and the news feed became the most important part of the platform.

Inspired by mobile
The new design takes inspiration from Facebook’s latest suite of mobile apps, replicating the left hand menu bar from the smartphone and tablet apps and placing it on the left hand side of the web-based interface. Facebook is finally unifying its principles for design and interaction across the major platforms in a simple and meaningful way. Something that the company has never fully achieved in the past.

Say goodbye to clutter
The content itself is essentially the same as it was before, its just being laid out in more visually appealing ways, removing anything that isn’t essential to the consumption of news feed content, to make the most important details stand out.

To help you digest all of the content being shared with you by your friends, Facebook have created a selection of filters, positioned on the right hand side of the main feed. These filters separate out posts into individual feeds based on their content. For instance, there are now individual feeds for Photos, videos, games and groups. You can also create your own custom feeds too, if you’d prefer a more fine grained control of your news feed experience.

Content front and centre
This unification also applies to the individual posts within the news feed. Each one is now laid out in almost exactly the same way, regardless of the device you’re using. The most important media within each news feed post now takes up a majority of the real estate available, which means larger photos, more prominent links, and better support for videos, maps and other forms of content. The less important information, such as titles, descriptions and text links are either hidden away or overlaid where appropriate. The final result is a clean, elegant stream of content that is much easier to digest.

Behind the scenes
Nowadays it seems no product or feature announcement is complete without an inspirational video, documenting the subject in question’s journey from concept to reality. Here’s Facebook’s latest heart string tugging effort:

Overall the new design is a breath of fresh air for Facebook. It’s stale, almost old fashioned, look and feel was beginning to take its toll. Especially when placed side by side with Google’s highly praised layout for Google+. This new modern style is a giant leap in the right direction, let’s just hope they continue to improve the design at a faster pace than they have in previous years.

The updated news feed is rolling out across the web right now, but may take some time to propagate across the entire network, so don’t be surprised if it takes a few days to arrive. As far as the mobile apps are concerned, new design updates will arrive some time in the coming weeks.

For more information, and to jump the list for the redesigned news feed rollout, visit Facebook’s official news feed page.

What do you think of the new design? Good, bad, or ugly? Let us know in the comments below.

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