RealTime IT News

All's Quiet on The Facebook Redesign Front

Lesson learned. Facebook today launched its redesigned site, which includes 47,000 new network portal pages. But this time, the site let its users know the changes were coming.

The three goals for the redesign were simplifying navigation, creating more efficient messaging between users and providing a network portal page that gave users access to live data in their networks, Facebook director of products Katie Geminder told internetnews.com.

The redesign positions links to a user's profile, friends, networks and inbox to the top of each page throughout the site. Facebook also moved links to photos, notes, groups, events and posted items to the left side bar, added Geminder.

Every Facebook user belongs to at least one network, depending on their regions, company and school. The new network portal pages show popular public events and public groups recently formed by members in that network.

The portal pages will also display metrics about the network, including number of members and a gender breakdown. Dig a little deeper and users can find out the political views and the relationship status of users, displayed in percentages. The stats are aggregated from users' profiles.

The last time Facebook announced major changes, users rebelled. The site introduced a "News Feed," a dynamically updated list that tracks the activity of a user's friends. Ironically, because the News Feed tracked which groups users were joining, protest groups grew exponentially faster than they would have before the News Feed's introduction. More than 500,000 people joined a group called "Students against Facebook News Feed."

That was when Facebook founder and CEO Mark Zuckerberg infamously told the site's users, "Calm down. Breathe. We hear you." Many wondered whether Facebook would maintain its popularity after the furor.

But Facebook soon added new privacy controls for users who wanted out of the News Feed. Things calmed down.

Since then, the site has grown from 9 million members to 19 million "active" members, as Facebook spokeswoman Brandee Barker described them. She said Facebook grows by 3 percent each week.

Geminder said Facebook came out of the News Feed imbroglio with "lessons learned." This time, she said, Facebook created a group on the site called "Facebook Sneak Preview" and released screenshots to foster discussion among users about the improvements. Facebook said more than 100,000 users joined the group.

"Any change on a Web site that people are passionate about results in some strongly in favor and some not so much," Geminder said. "But this has been a relatively smooth launch."