Are you suffering from Facebook fatigue? I am, after a year of being a hyperactive Facebooker (I would pass on Mortimer, the travelling bear to, or “bite chomps” off the person I got introduced to last week). It’s no longer a daily ritual, except the endless games of Scrabulous played with my spouse and a few friends. Friend requests are piling up and notifications ignored.
Just as I was getting back to a Facebook-free life, the site’s new interface was introduced — a cleaner one that simplifies the user experience, as opposed to the buzzy and cramped old one.
Mark Zuckerberg, the site’s founder, said in an interview to The New York Times soon after the revamped site was launched, that Facebook had “grown up”. The site, launched in February 2004, began as a social networking tool for college students and its closed nature was one of its biggest selling points. But most of those students have graduated, grown up and moved on to the office space. So, the new interface is meant to appeal to a more mature user who doesn’t want to waste time on personality tests and mindless applications.
In the bargain, Facebook, having moved on from the dorm to a one-room studio, has become boring.
First the aesthetics: The home page now looks like that of a news feed site with a steady outpouring of well-defined news items. The left side of the page is blank and the right has a biggish box that contains the applications, the friend finder and the status update space on top — certainly clutter-free, but is it more dynamic? No. Can the new Facebook reflect needs of its changing user profile and yet hook new surfers already spoilt for choice with Twitter, MySpace and other sites? Perhaps not.
The updated news feed and mini-feed features that appear on the home page create a different kind of clutter. Your home page now is a roster of continuous update messages: X became a fan of MooQuest; Y commented on Z’s photo; Z commented back. The previous home page was a combination of photographs, videos, the super-wall and many more elements that made surfing much more unpredictable and fun.
The good part, though, is that you can try out new applications before adding them to your profile. So, there’s no compulsion to add silly tags such as the “What type of dance are you” application and inviting 10 friends to it before you can try it out.
Plus, look out for small, quirky elements that sure make up for the overall dull interface: you have the choice to “throw Justin Timberlake” at your homophobic guy friend. Or “throw an octopuss” at that school bully who you added long ago but have been waiting for her to write on your wall first.