This article was originally published on the Spectrum blog.
Somehow, Facebook has a way of giving every new adoption of their site a profound feel while simultaneously making their recently changed version seem old, tired and utterly out-of-date. Yesterday's unveiling was no exception. When Mark Zuckerberg revealed the News Feed design and functionality changes that he and his team have been working on, it was obvious that Facebook hadn't lost its creative aptitude and willingness to reinvent the way over a billion people share, explore and connect with their world.
The latest update will change the look and feel of the stories on our News Feed while also giving us more control over what we see than ever before. Another exciting change comes on the mobile front with responsive design, a technology that we've been writing about and promoting at Spectrum for all the same reasons that Facebook chose to implement it. By making Facebook responsive, the social media king now delivers a consistently beautiful, intuitive and familiar experience across all platforms -- desktops, tablets and mobile devices. Spectrum has started to provide its own marketing customers with responsive web design services as a way of capitalizing on people's innate need for familiarity. It's an approach that promotes a unique level of comfort in users, prompting potential customers to fill out quote forms or, in Facebook's case, simply engage more comfortably and more often on their mobile devices.
Facebook says that people will start to see the new changes to their News Feed slowly emerge over the next several weeks. From a design perspective, here's what we can expect:
1. Bigger, more vibrant photos.
No more squinting. Anticipate viewing your friends' photos on a larger scale with more detail and satisfaction than ever before.
2. More encompassing stories.
Whenever a new story pops up, it will now share additional features from the person or company that posted it, including a cover photo and friend/fan thumbnails.
3. Places are BIGGER.
4. Videos are BIGGER.
5. Third-party content is BIGGER.
In tandem with the size changes made to video and Places notifications, you will now see content for popular apps like Pinterest, Instagram and Foursquare in a larger, crisper and generally more appealing format.
6. More attractive, enticing article sharing.
When you LIKE or share an article online, the image as well as the title and the summary of the article will be larger and generally more attractive on the new News Feed.
7. Popular articles appear more readily.
Facebook will now automatically deliver trending articles to your News Feed that align with yourinterests.
While the seven aforementioned changes are extremely significant from a design perspective and will forever change how we see things on Facebook, there is one other new feature that will allow us to control what we see on Facebook -- an arguably more significant calibration. "Choice of Feeds," as Mark Zuckerberg called it, will allow users to pick and choose what topics and information they're viewing on their News Feed. This adjustment is based on the company's push for a more organized and intuitive site that is less cluttered and thus less frustrating and annoying. The new News Feed will break down into the following four categories: Friends, Music, Photos and Following. Welcome to a very simple, efficient and pleasing way to browse your world.
So, why all the changes?
First of all, Zuckerberg mentioned that nearly half of all News Feed content is picture-based. When photos and other visual notifications are 50% of everything people see on FB, it's only natural to want to make it more aesthetically pleasing. The "Choice of Feeds" adjustment, however, was inspired by research that showed that people only want to be exposed to content they want to see. It's an ongoing issue, as the digitalization of our lives (especially through Facebook) has made it far more difficult to avoid what we don't want or need to view. This change, much like responsive design and the introduction of more resonant photos, is certainly one for the better. Let's go.