New Facebook UI

Posted: February 4th, 2010 | Author: | Filed under: Technology | Tags: , | No Comments »

For some reason, I seem to have been randomly selected to beta test the new Facebook UI. There is no opt-out of this, and I wasn’t notified. After posting a snarky and sarcastic status update, I found that I was seemingly the only friend online who had the new UI.

Good UI designs constantly change in arbitrary and unpredictable ways. Muscle memory is a bad thing. People love to constantly learn new ways to perform common trivial tasks, especially if the new ways are not noticeably better than the old ways. Good to see that Facebook is learning well from its business partner Microsoft!

So, in case you are interested in what you may soon be using, here is a screenshot:

New Facebook UI Screenshot

New Facebook UI Screenshot

A quick tour:

  • The icons in the top left, next to the word “facebook”, are your new links to messages, notifications, and friend requests. The new tiny and arbitrary icons, in addition to having terrible contrast, are drop-down menus with live previews. While slick, the icons are annoying to click. On the plus side, you can click the message directly in the pop down menu.
  • The “Friends Online” list on the side is annoying– unlike the popup menu (still in the bottom right), it is limited in the number of friends displayed, and it doesn’t respect your list groupings. Also, when you click “see all”, it doesn’t expand in place; no, it triggers the OLD chat popup in the bottom right to expand, on the other side of your screen. This is all manner of retarded, I haven’t seen a UI do something that terrible since I last had to use Pro/Engineer.
  • The “Accounts” menu, in the upper right, now has a shortcut to “credits”. Gee, thanks, Facebook.
  • Overall, the look and feel seems more hodge-podge. Why is the search bar in the middle now, instead of the top right as is standard? Why did they feel the need to split common tasks across toolbars separated by the entire screen? What utility are they trying to add? What workflows does this UI intend to facilitate?

At any rate, I hope this beta UI is merely a temporary trial of design features. I doubt that is the case; Facebook didn’t notify me in any way that my UI was going to change or had changed. There is no way that I see to change UI versions. In addition, there is no special offer of a feedback or bug reporting link. I suspect this is not a trial of the UI design, but merely a staged rollout. While I am glad that Facebook is working to improve UI behaviors while adding new features, this feels like a step backwards.

If you are curious about any of the new feature behaviors, let me know in a comment.

UPDATE: 3 hours after changing the UI, Facebook finally posted a notification on my homepage, saying, “Check out your new, simplified homepage!” They conveniently provided this link: