Facebook Planning to Cut Timeline in Half

Peter Roesler, President - Web Marketing Pros

By Peter Roesler

President, Web Marketing Pros

Facebook is running tests on a new design for the Timeline interface. Rather than having two columns of updates, the new interface will have only one.

Many experts believe that having half the columns will greatly improve the usability of the interface. The current multi-column design can be frustrating for many mainstream users, they say.

The Current Design

When you currently click on your name in the upper left of your Facebook, you go to your Timeline. Right now, there are two columns with equal weight and width, and they are separated by a blue line. On the left, there is a list of user posts, and on the right are modules such as activity, friends, places and likes.  When there are no more modules, the Timeline fills in that space with more posts.

From a strict design perspective, this Timeline leaves a good deal to be desired. It is quite confusing, to say the least.

The New Design

The new design seems to make more sense. It gives more focus to the column on the left by making it much wider. It will span about 60% of the page width, and will leave 40% or so for the modules. And when there are no more modules, the space is totally blank.

This change will not make the Timeline perfect, but it does make it better.

For some reason, Facebook seems to often ignore basic content design practices. It seems to often favor any type of change over the status quo. It also shows that Facebook tends to make decisions the way that many Silicon Valley firms do.

In some cases, software developers think that just because the code is more complex than anything else produced by the company, that its programmers are somehow smarter and better. Because they think they are smarter, they think they can better come up with solutions to design, content marketing and other types of problems than specialists who work in those parts of the company.

So, you end up in these companies where the software engineers overrule designers, and that’s how something like the current Facebook Timeline comes about. The engineers are handling some of the design work there, they ignore the A/B testing, and they seem to think that all space has to be filled with some content. This is not the best design choice in most cases.

We remain eager and hopeful to see the new Facebook Timeline design, with the hope that the designers indeed win out over the software engineers in the new look and feel.

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