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Facebook Restores Its Face

Posted @ 12:16 pm by L. Lysakowski | Category: Community & Social Media, Creative Design, User Experience | 0 Comments

As we all know, Facebook is in the process of rolling out a new user experience design in order to reduce the clutter that has been generated by the inclusion of apps and new armies of users which all have their own demands from the platform. Facebook established its brand by offering members a defined but refined interface with minimal customization, the opposite approach to the leading hero, MySpace. The Facebook interface was known for its clean design, ample white space, and color palette limited to shades of blue and grey. MySpace made itself by allowing its members to directly communicate between friends but also to stylistically customize their profiles to the point of chaos.

With the inclusion of apps on Facebook, the platform lost its Swiss Aesthetic as users added apps to their profiles in any order and manner they saw fit. Applications started taking over Facebook and user profiles as they started running wild, being obnoxious, and crowding profiles. As a result, the Facebook brand experience started losing its primary differential – clean and efficient communication. As Facebook states, “by cleaning up and simplifying the site, we think the new Facebook makes it even easier to connect and communicate.”1 Facebook’s new approach is a return to its interface design roots, clean and simple, the opposite of MySpace, in order to attract and serve a broader range of users.

The new Facebook approach to communication is to divide the profile page into multiple tabs. The key tab is the Wall, which allows you to display your Facebook and other social activity from the web. In such manner, instead of displaying stylistic aptitudes, you are projecting personal interests and activities with the ability to customize your wall message by its breadth or its existence. As far as your previous applications are concerned, they have been largely moved to an oddly titled tab: Boxes. The move allows the Wall to continuously highlight Apps that promote your and your friends activities instead of allowing Apps to stake out valuable real estate and hold it regardless of whether they are providing any ongoing value. FB sees the Wall as a more democratic field for apps, and by refocusing on communication between users, it is honing in on the key point of Facebook and MySpace, displaying your self and keeping up with the Joneses.

The Facebook platform redeployment is worth watching as far as brand experience in the Web 2.0 space is concerned. As of 04/08, MySpace attracts more than twice as many monthly visitors in the U.S. and twice the amount of ad revenue compared to Facebook2. The question now is whether the refined Facebook brand will attract new users with their associated eyeballs by offering a well-designed brand and user experience over a brand that allows users to stylistically define their appearance.

(1.) http://blog.new.facebook.com/blog.php?post=24577977130 – login required to view

(2.) http://www.technologyreview.com/Biztech/20922/page2/ – login required to view; see also illustration below

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