Facebook, how it works and how people feel about it may all be increasingly complex, but on March 7 the social network announced that its look will soon be much simpler.
It announced a redesign to “reduce clutter and focus more on stories from the people you care about.” The News Feed also will be more photo-centric and “much more vibrant and colorful.”
Much more, one might say, like the incredibly successful Instagram, which Facebook purchased for $1 billion in April 2012.
Also, instead of a single News Feed, the new Facebook will offer four additional types of feeds—one that shows everything your friends are sharing, another that’s just photos, another that’s just music and one that shows the latest news from Pages that you and Friends like.
Finally, and perhaps most importantly, the new Facebook will have the same look and feel across desktops, tablets and smartphones.
Currently, on the Web, ads are in a right-hand column not visible on mobile devices. A single Facebook layout will mean a consistent advertising experience. The reason: While for users Facebook may be about Friends and content, for Facebook, it’s about ad revenue.
Nicholas Franchet, Facebook’s head of global e-commerce, said the new design “could help improve user engagement and ultimately monetization,” according to a March 8 report from Upstart Business Journal.
Franchet has encouraged businesses to “be in the newsfeed at all times, talking to your existing and potential customers,” since “there’s no right-hand-side on mobile.”
“Facebook has to walk a fine line between making itself more responsive to advertisers and more interesting to customers,” Ken Hyers, an analyst with Technology Business Research, said.
“Creating feeds that are more appealing to users will likely bring them back more often, while delivering more targeted advertising to those users,” Hyers added. “This is especially important since Facebook is now heavily used on mobile devices—and to date, Facebook has done a poor job of making the mobile experience advertising-friendly.”
With its new options and brighter design, “You could say that rather than trying to ‘capture eyeballs’ Facebook is after ‘captive eyeballs,’” Charles King, principal analyst with Pund-IT, said. “Whether this will work is anyone’s guess. Hardcore FB users may find it attractive, but I have trouble imagining how News Feed will attract new users or audiences.”
If the new Facebook gives users more choice about how they view content from Friends, it also gives them “more choice when it comes to seeing content from businesses,” says Sarah Carter, general manager of social networks at Actiance, a security and compliance solutions provider.
“People can skip content from a business if they want to. The flip side is that the new design is meant to get people browsing for longer, and improve the overall Facebook experience,” said Carter. “So if a business is able to effectively market to its audience on this channel, using content that is visual, relevant and spoken in an authentic voice, the ROI should be greater.”
Facebook plans to begin rolling out the design “slowly over the coming weeks.” To be among those who receive it sooner rather than later, you can sign up to be added to a list.