In recent months, the Facebook team has been on a quest to pack more information into the homepage. The latest composition removes the Most Recent tab from the news feed and replaces it with a real-time activity feed inside the Chat sidebar, slamming users with more information whether they like it or not.
Don't Miss a Beat
The design mimics some recent changes made to the Games section of Facebook, in which a stream of information is displayed to the right of the game being played. The new column informs a player what other games his or her friends are participating in, including their achievements:
The redesign aims to increase awareness of other games by placing them in front of the users who would most likely be interested in signing up. Apply that logic to the latest homepage redesign, and it's obvious that Facebook hopes to present each user with as much relevant network activity as possible. After all, the more awareness, the likelier information is to go viral.
One could argue that Facebook's current Top News/Most Recent format already does this, but it isn't as effective as it's designed to be if users consistently view one section over the other (admittedly, I generally stick to the Most Recent tab). The new side bar -- a.k.a. the Ticker -- pretty much forces users to be privy of everything happening within their network, with the exception of activities from friends whose feeds have been hidden.
This could turn out to be great news for Pages, as the stream displays: likes, comments, status updates, new photos, and updates from pages you’re a fan of on a constant basis. And even though that sounds like a lot of information, a user is probably less likely to remove updates from the real-time feed if it’s separated from the main column of content, right?
On the other hand, it could be a jarring change for those that've grown used to Facebook's current layout. I think Josh Constine of Inside Facebook hit the nail on the head with his preference:
I believe a version of the home page that offered the Ticker and Top News but also provided the Most Recent feed would be optimal — basically how it is now, plus the Ticker. It would preserve all the old functionality and make a real-time activity feed visible to all users as the currently tested design does, but also let power users read the Most Recent feed’s full, rich-media versions of news feed stories without having to expand each from the sidebar individually. This design wouldn’t reduce the clutter of the home page, but a two-tab central feed with a real-time second feed could give gamers, casual users, and power users what they want.
A Facebook spokesperson said that the test is being done on a small percentage of users, and in the coming weeks, as more is learned from the test, it may be expanded to more people.
Looking forward to it? Tell us why or why not in the comments below.