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July 30, 2008

New Facebook Design Confuses Many, Obscures Features

By Jesse Stay of Stay N' Alive (Identi.ca/FriendFeed)
(UPDATE: I wrote this post originally with the intent to show several missing features, which appeared to be missing to me over the last week or so. As you can read in the comments, I was very quickly corrected - either Facebook has recently re-added those features in place, or they are, as I mentioned in this post, just hard to find! I realized we had something bigger on our hands - If Facebook can confuse me, how many others will also be confused? I've modified this post to reflect that.)
With every new site redesign comes angry users ready to criticize the change. People just don't like change. I saw this first when I redesigned the site, SteepAndCheap.com (where I went by the nick, "SAC Hacker" in the forums). We saw every possible reaction to the new design on SteepAndCheap a few years ago, but in the end, people settled down, got used to it, and realized it was actually better for them in the long run. We're seeing this currently with Facebook's new design, even when only 5% of their users have actually switched to the new design! However, some of that outrage may be warranted, as you know (look in the comments), I originally wrote this thinking several features were missing, only to realize even I was confused at where to find them!

Facebook seems to have moved the Pages and Groups on users' profile pages. Now, to access Pages or Groups, one has to click one page deep from the main profile Page into the "Info" tab, and if you scroll down your Pages and Groups will be in the main section below. What's even more odd is that there is no way to drag those Groups or Pages around like there was before in order to put them higher up for users to see. Facebook evidently does not want users to see Pages and Groups as the first things users see when they visit your profile, as the company seems to be saving the business portions of Facebook for later. They seem have put low priority on them lately.

It's obvious that Applications have now moved to the "boxes" tab, and Facebook has made this clear in several announcements and blog posts recently. They did cut developers short however in the time frame they offered, and developers aren't happy either. For this reason you'll see most of your applications in that Boxes tab, rather than on your main Profile page, and applications like the FriendFeed app on Facebook no longer display detailed information in your news feed, but rather, "so and so has new activity in FriendFeed".

Lastly, up until just recently it appears (because there is an entire thread of people here that seemed to be missing it), a much needed and appreciated feature, the "ignore all" feature for applications was gone entirely. Facebook seems to be trying to remove spammy activity by applications, but somehow this was overlooked when they launched the new design it appears. It's a welcome sight to see that "ignore all" button back in your requests again.

As you can tell from the original revision of this post that I mentioned above, even I was confused by the new design (and I wrote two books about Facebook)! While I like how clean the new design is, getting to know where features are and aren't will take some time. This is going to confuse many of you, and there will be some backlash. My hope is, that with time, all this will work out for a better, cleaner, less spammy Facebook that we can all appreciate.

There are probably many more things that have moved or changed - please share them and your frustrations in the comments!