The past couple of months have seen a flurry of changes at Facebook. News Feeds were redesigned for personal pages, business pages got new layouts and timelines, News Feed spam detection, and much more. The ultimate goal of all of these changes is to create a more pleasant experience for the users. For marketers, it’s important to understand how users will experience these changes so they can adapt their content to make the most of these improvements to the platform.
One of the major goals of the Facebook layout design was to make the site more navigable for users. An experiment that Facebook ran last year found that testers “liked the bigger photos and images, but found it more difficult to navigate Facebook overall”. Facebook has stated that their goal with the current design was to keep the larger images and the other elements of the redesign that people liked the most without encumbering the user experience.
The goal of a simplified site can be seen in the streamlined design changes. Business pages will no longer have two columns on their timelines. This change has several benefits for users. First, the single column allowed for the bigger photos and images mentioned above. Second, having one column eliminates the zigzagging posts issue (i.e. posts would alternate from right to left column for each post) that once made it harder for people to navigate a business page. Similarly, the two columns created situations where posts of different sizes on different columns would create gaps. These gaps didn’t really harm readability but they were an eyesore.
Another major goal of the redesigned business pages is to make information easier to find. A business’ Facebook page has been a good source for information for a while. However, though there was a lot of information available, it was placed in a way that users had search or know where to look if they wanted to find specific information. Things like phone numbers, hour of operations, maps, apps, etc. are now more prominently located on the left hand side of the page.
The changes to the News Feeds and business pages don’t mean that the core of Facebook has changed. The site is still about people sharing content and connecting with one another. When Facebook announced some of the News Feed changes in March, they said that content itself wouldn’t be affected.
“These changes are visual updates and do not affect how we surface content to people, nor do they change how stories are ranked in News Feed,” the company wrote in March 7th post. “Though in the new design all images are larger, both organic stories and ads will be the same size — similar to the way images appear on mobile.”
However, Facebook has made some other changes to the Newsfeed since that posting was created. In fact, the biggest changes that users will notice (besides the Georgia font) will relate to the content they see in their News Feed. Facebook has stated that they want to create a more relevant News Feed experience for Facebook users. Part of this is an algorithm change that will help ensure that only high-quality content gets into the News Feed. As was mentioned in an earlier post, this means that there will be fewer posts from business pages and these posts will favor posts with images and links to simple text-only posts. Facebook is also working to show fewer spammy posts. Facebook is specifically targeting “like-baiting” tactic that generate a high amount of engagement on low-quality posts through spammy techniques.
All of these changes show that Facebook still has a lot of steam and is constantly working to keep the social network relevant. The changes may take some getting used to, but in the end, it will be better for everyone involved. Improving the user experience brings more people to Facebook and keeps them coming back. This is good for Facebook’s revenue, for the marketers who use the platform to reach their target audience, and it’s good for the users who come to Facebook looking for content they will like.