Means of Seeing what the eye brings

March 19, 2009

new vs. old facebook

Filed under: everyone's a critic,the interweb — Tags: , — osteoderm @ 9:45 am

There’s been all sorts of knee jerk whiny criticism leveled at the “new” facebook interface. At first, the new interface was a generally annoying, but I decided to dig a little deeper and figure out what exactly does and doesn’t work for me. The “new” layout, like any website layout, is pretty much a matter of personal taste; what ultimately matters to me is functionality.

The Good:
Notifications, Applications and Chat are all still one click away on the bottom Bookmark bar. The left Applications sidebar makes for less clicking; the Photos, Links, and Videos pages are a single click away and seem optimized for quick publishing, fixing my one big nit with the “old” Facebook; ie., previously to upload pics from the Home page, I’d have to go to Photos, then to My Photos, then to Edit Albums, then, blah blah, blah… Now, I just hit the Photos sidebar button, and I’m faced with an upload box.
The “old” way is still available: the Applications Bookmark Photos tab still returns the “old” Photos page. Filtering the newsfeed by friend groupings feels more intuitive now, although I doubt many people have gone through the hassle of setting up friend groups…
I like how almost anything can be Commented, Liked, or Shared.

The Bad:
The newsfeed. It sucks. The only line-item filtering option is now to hide/unhide all feeds by friend, whereas the “old” had options for seeing less/more/none/all of particular news story types from all/individual friends. Now you just get everything, all the time.
Your current “Status” is missing from the Home page. The “What’s On Your Mind” tag is vague; I understand that it’s an attempt to move away from a tweet-like status to a more general mini-blogging, but it’s not obvious. I liked when FB removed the compulsory “is” from the status line, but this last change is too random. Also, carriage-returns in this Share box actually return a line break, instead of submitting the field; I don’t generally type out multi-line Status entries.
The right Highlights bar should have some filters/settings options; so equipped, this sidebar could be great, but now it’s just another unfiltered catch-all feed.

Overall, I think many of the complaints are coming from people who never had a great grasp on the “old” interface in the first place, and/or had never/seldom really gotten into the Options and Settings. I’m reading many complaints that you “shouldn’t be able to see private conversations between other friends on your Home feed”; this is entirely up to the settings those other friends have enabled, and generally taken as being a feature of facebook.
In my opinion, the “new” facebook is okay, but it’s just okay. Rather than being a wholesale improvement or worsening over the “old” version, I feel it just shifts the problem areas around a bunch. At very least, I have to give the people at facebook credit for their progressive thinking and attempts at a guided evolution of a service that many of us are becoming increasingly dependent on.

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