After Facebook’s F8 Keynote, I took a look into the new user interface for Timeline, the new profile. To begin, I wouldn’t consider myself a Facebook power user. Over the last couple years, my consistent posting into Facebook has dissipated. Changes in privacy controls, interface layouts, and the amount of content that was externally shared led me to privatize most of my information.
Facebook, for me, became a place to connect with friends and not casual acquaintances. I spent more time viewing other friends as they posted content like pictures or updates than adding my own content. After Facebook removed support for most of the apps I used, I stopped adding them.
With Ticker already added into the layout, I actually enjoy coming to the site more often. It is a simple feed where I’m not inundated with content that I don’t have any connection to. It allows me to view information from friends without having to scroll through past hours. I am curious about how the News Feed and Ticker will co-exist in the near future.
When Facebook announced Timeline and I was able to gain access, I first looked into the past. As one of the focuses of Timeline is to present older content in an easier way; I looked at the years when I was most active. This time between 2007-2009 contains most status updates, pictures, and linked content as well as app interactions.
Timeline allows for a lot of nostalgia. During that time there are a lot of memories with status updates, pictures, tags, and wall messages. At the same time, there is an ample amount of content that needs to be removed or hidden. Users who have been very socially active might want to take a look through their history. Since Timeline pulls all past content into the Activity Log, there are parts that people might want to remove.
When I was adding multiple apps, those updates also are aggregated on Timeline even though a lot of the apps were uninstalled. This is one way that Timeline can be both interesting and annoying. Some updates are very specific and don’t apply directly to the user and Timeline can’t link to all external sites. Open Graph’s update appears that it will have no issues with newer apps, but older app history might be lost.
The funny thing is that I don’t have a lot of varied content. I can’t imagine how a power user will deal with the overload of content from the past dealing with apps, updates, pictures, albums, tags, and the multitude other connections that are possible in Facebook. I’m not sure they will want to go through all their old updates and monitor what was posted during a different stage in their life.
Timeline is a visual experience. From the cover to friends lists, photos, and likes; Timeline presents more images and less text. Most text content is secondary to images with photos taking more physical space in the profile, regardless of being important or not. Essentially the focus is on visual content and not status updates with text.
In my profile, pictures are the content that takes up the most space even though I write status updates more. Even the Timeline update for “Likes” contains large images. The obvious goal for Timeline is to make things more interactive with visual cues.
I’m not knocking the update though, I enjoy it a lot more than the previous profile layout as it is more simplified and easier to browse content. The new layout is appealing enough that I will probably post more content to my personal profile. I do think there is room for small improvements like customization of the header for Timeline.
Facebook took a big step in drastically changing the layout for the profile. It is a step away from an OS user interface in the top of the profile and shows the activity of a user. While the transition for many users will be difficult, I believe that the changes included in this overhaul make Facebook a better personal user experience. The integration of apps into profiles and Ticker look like the next big push for Facebook, and Timeline is a great place to start. Facebook also announced the mobile versions of the site will also support Timeline, but the updated apps for iOS and Android have not been announced.