That time that the Nintendo Generation relishes is back again and at this very moment a very small percentage of your friends and maybe those lucky few that have stumbled to this post and unwittingly have it already.
There are 1 billion of us that use it and we are all subject to it being forced upon us and without the need to fluff it up further I give you…The latest incarnation of the Facebook interface!
As we did our afternoon login to check our Facebook accounts at the Premier Essex Digital Agency that is Nova Digital Media, primarily a Web Design Agency from the UK, one of our Developers jumped from his chair and yelped almost like someone had stuck a thumb tack on his chair and yelled “I have the new Facebook!”.
Well I recall the last incarnation and the hype that it caused with the new timeline or wall or whatever you want to call it. However, this time round there seems to be a more all round version update that has taken the Graphical User Interface of the world’s most social website and I for one am glad it’s here.
I am ashamed to say that it wasn’t me that got the update and of the 5 of us, only 1 received the new glorious graphics of Facebook Design so should you wish to be considered for the new interface early you need to get over here:https://www.facebook.com/about/newsfeed and register your interest.
What is New for Facebook in July 2013
The largest alterations have been made to the way we use Facebook for search and navigation which would suggest that Facebook have been one of the first to act on the data freely available on the Internet which is the Tidal Wave of browsers now using Mobile Devices to connect to their favourite websites.
Mobile Devices have long been considered a possible future permanent solution for browsing the internet and I believe that this confirms that the Web Designers of the future Facebook are considering this too, If we consider the Apps Facebook has released and the large number of people that are using the Giant Social Platform now for Local and National Searches doesn’t this seem to be a natural move for all web sites?
I don’t mean to blow my own horn here, but I’ve been saying this for years. This is simply the first time I have put my opinion in the public domain. Mobile and Touch Navigation Web Design has been at the forefront of Nova Digital Media’s repertoire since it’s reincarnation as a Small Web Design Studio in Essex to a Full Creative and Digital Agency in 2013.
Think about it. What’s happening all around you on the morning or afternoon commute today?
Look around when your next on the train, People browsing their phones, tablets or laptops right? If not, then chances are they are playing Candy Crush, Farm Ville or some other “Facebook Game”.
This latest interface alteration seems to bring a sense of alignment between the Mobile Version people are becoming accustomed to and distancing the old Desktop Browser Version, which as you can imagine seems to lead us to consider that Facebook are one of the first to consider that Mobile Design is “more important” than Desktop Design.
A New Header for a New Facebook
From the top of the page we noticed immediately that the icons that assist site wide navigation have been given a shuffle, possibly to optimise site design more in line with standard design practice of having navigation on the top right and the logo in the top left.
I would hasten to add that the biggest brand change is that the word FACEBOOK no longer sits upon the page like a Logo ‘king on the throne’. Instead Facebook have opted for the more Social Media Icon style Logo that has been plastered over websites on the internet like a Social Rash and in our humble opinion is a more noticeable and recognisable brand image than the written and custom font that is the old Facebook logo.
The font in the search bar seems slightly larger and the search bar has a softer and rounded border. The icons informing us of new friends, messages and notifications have been cast aside over to the right where we think they belong.
the ‘privacy settings’ icon is separated by a small pipe and then a small downward pointing arrow which signifies more options in the furthest right hand side which opens up the menu that was hidden behind a cog icon before.
The New Face of the New Facebook a Contrasted Icon?
A small quirky change, but for a me something that is noticeable as a highly improved GUI alteration is the Facebook Icon / Logo next to the search bar. This alone is enough to make me excited without all the other alterations. But to the less Interface Design inclined I thought I’d point out a a great use of contrast design to highlight the companies brand and a clear and easy way to highlight the brand.
But in line with their internet dominating goals why not use the community adopted icon to show their brand dominance, this is the visual equivalent of someone “googling” something. There are more versions of this Facebook brand than any over online (maybe with exception of the thumbs up coming in at the rear) as it’s a subtle icon that Web Masters aren’t too worried about using to distract there visitors.
Cleverly making this the focus of the branding isn’t this reversing that thought process and causing all of those icons to be the “actual brand logo” of the magnum opus brain child of Mr Zuckerberg.
Side Bar Navigation
A much neater and hidden away side bar navigation allows users to get the full screen effect of their Tablet or Phone while still having access to the all important – News Feed, Messages, Events, Pages, Apps and finally Groups.
I’m imagining in a few years when all monitors are ‘Touch or Gesture Enabled’ and a simple, flick of the finger will, show or hide the Navigation allowing the content in the main part of the page to remain the dominant focus for the viewer.
To some the best feature of all, hide the chat is still possible but with a slightly optimised look and integrated feel to this area of Facebook, previously this was achieved with a single icon in the lower left corner of the chat area, now this is part of a menu system that includes additional Filterable chat features like; Chat with Lists allowing you to select only a group of people that you would like to chat to.
How fun, No longer do you need to set up advanced privacy settings or completely go offline to avoid someone you may still owe money too from that hazy weekend bender!
Post Search Feature
This is a complex piece of code and styling here to complete again another simple method of keeping a large menu at bay.
In Interface design we call this an accordion, as like its namesake the instrument that delights some on the busy streets of Camden, London every now and again it is a small object that can on demand become a much larger object. Clicking a menu item will expand that item to reveal sub sections or child navigation sections if you like hidden like a Russian Doll gleefully popping open a tiny menu within.
Each item also gives you a great indicator of its usefulness by showing you new information that has been posted or updated within the interface in again a clever and subtle drop shadow style.
The same great List features are available for you to use, there just seems to be a better design around presenting the lists / likes and page feeds to you in this shiny new version.
Post / Wall Filters
Once you’ve settled on a wall item, your also given a wonderful punch in the eyes with a new way of displaying the content to you in a Metro Style organisation of the images and posts using a style we are accustomed with from the previous Interface Update that we now all enjoy.
There is however a new banner that is customised with a personalised image to your interests adorning the top of the new filtered wall, indicating as clear as glass that you are on the filter that you selected.
Click the boxes below to see screenshots of how the filters work…
The New Timeline Wall for New Facebook
The first noticeable thing for me was the adjustment made to the Profile Icons, the rounded off corners and more complete images seemed to leap out of the screen at me and without trying draw my attention to the relevant wall post.
What’s more is the use of the icons to signify the post type, events are presented with a snazzy almost iOS style date icon and other Facebook platform features seem to have a newer more polished look about the icons, but the personalised and commercial posts look better too, this design really brings the wall sections into the iPhone age and give the posts a look that is akin to a customised button for an iPhone App.
Emoticons gleam from the page like a Super Nova Star in the cosmos on a dark night, like a beacon of emotion they signify to us that someone dear and personal has requested something now I’m not saying this is a new feature at all.
But again with a polished look the new icons seem to be brighter and much more appealing, I only glanced at the little hear emoticon but I would be ‘very’ surprised to find that Facebook have only updated one icon.
I’ve noticed 2 already and I’m looking forward to discovering a whole new icon set that Facebook have recreated giving one Essex Based Graphics guy a little ‘pixel pick’ up!
Friend Likes on Posts
This is a great new feature for those egotistical wall addicts or conceited post people among us (in a nice way, of course), with this instant visual cue you’ll get to see not only how many but who liked your wall post allowing to you to continue your rant or informative post to the masses most interested in your ramblings.
Also you’ll see who your real fans are by getting a quick glimpse of their face on the wall rather than several clicks and a lot of guess work!
Enhanced Post Images
Looking at the new image, it’s possible that Facebook have spent some time optimising the image used on their ‘launch page’ but after closer inspection it does seem that most of the images that are on the site being viewed on the latest incarnation are a bit, higher definition?
Is this down to the image engine that powered the billions of images on the site and is this also taking into account overall global increases in broadband speed? I think so, further more with faster speeds the Light-box (pop-up image viewer) that displays the images upon mouse click, which seems to also be slightly more generous giving us, larger monitor folk, more image by drawing the box closer to the edges of the screen. This is not fully tested as we rushed straight to word processing once we saw the New Facebook so please excuse us if this turns out to not be the case.
However I’m sure you’ll agree that the way gallery posts are displayed is very much an improvement with an almost Windows 8 feel in the new tiled layout. Also allowing you to skip the first image and also get a bit of information about the gallery within the post tile before you need to click it.
This almost seems like Facebook no longer want you to stray from your wall giving you the filters and tiled information posts excerpts with as much information as possible making the New Wall a more informative place to be in Facebook.
Video and Multimedia Posts
Video Posts have also seen an overhaul of the design of the post tile showing off the video with the new customer integrated video player instead of the YouTube feed of old and also giving us the same captioned tile that we have seen with the Image gallery posts.
I’m wondering if there is a audio or sound only version similar to sound cloud in the making allowing music to be streamed from the wall of a filtered user giving us an almost playlist for our favourite music.
You hearing me Facebook?
Facebook Image Search
Filtering the wall for images seems to be a great way to also get rid of the stuff you don’t want and is possibly a game changer for family members that simply want to nose through other family members images to catch-up without making that social interaction that used to be called a ‘phone call’.
Don’t get me wrong I’m a Facebook enthusiast but as more features like this come into play is makes me wonder if this sort of filterable option will push families further apart by telling stories of thousands of words without the need for a conversation of, “How was the wedding? or “Did you enjoy your holiday?”
Gallery updates, improved imagery and filterable searches through the inbox of wall posts that we are presented with allow us to focus our attention on what matters to us at the time and leave the tangents and misgivings of the old timelines a firm shove to the knackers yard as we strive for optimum use of our time and a more focussed experience on Facebook between breaks at work or on the 30 minute commute home.
Messenger for Windows
The best for last? Finally the new Messenger for Windows, Is this the doing of the Windows 8 or MSN squad over at Microsoft? With the Skype envelopment with Windows 8 it seems possible that the strong connection between My Zuckerburg and Mr Gates as the 2 giants of software have teamed up in another area with Bing Search being just the tip of the Iceberg.
What’s next Skype Calls on Facebook? Why Not?
Well hey maybe that’s how the Facebook Video Calling works with Skype Mechanics?
Well whether this is the latest attempt to revive the old dying Windows Messenger (MSN) via Facebook it is entirely possible, after all who are we to speculate on the possible alliances and software collaborations that have taken place at camp FaceSoft (you see what I did there!…”FACE- book, micro-SOFT”!).
Notice however that MicroSoft only platforms are not the only place Facebook wants to play on this new Software. Messenger is available also for Mobile and Firefox, look closely that seems to be an android phone! Hey who are Google to stand in the way of progress right!?
To Sum it all up
To coin a phrase, “innovation is 99 perspiration and 1 inspiration” and it seems in the back rooms of the Facebook Factories like The Wonka Chocolate Factory, the wonderful minions and powers that be behind Facebook have worked very hard and furiously hammered out this wonderful new toy and I love it! So from us at Nova Digital Media, THANK YOU!
But what will this Facebook Revolution mean for the likes of You and Me as users?
Ease of use, Multi Platform Compatibility, Responsive Design for Multiple Screen Sizes and much more…
Of course, Design and Interface Improvements are all that left for the Facebook Crowd, making it pretty and easy to use is a long overdue version update that we were all needing to refresh our palettes for this tapering off growth session that Facebook has been enjoying for the last few years.
The road map now for Facebook with a fully Touch and Gesture friendly interface is good, the possibilities are now open to all sorts of great new tools, ideas and updates; Office 365, Outlook Accounts, Adobe Facebook Apps maybe?
Hey that’s great for us, we work in Facebook every day so having our Office in here with our preferred crowd would be a great idea.
For now though all I can do is sit and be jealous that my Web Developer is sitting perusing the new features and I’m still on the waiting list.
COME ON FACEBOOK GIVE A MAN A BREAK! LET ME IN!!!
January 2014 UPDATE
Facebook has begun to roll out it’s new User Interface to select Business Pages. Our CEO John Palmer explains more:
February 2014 UPDATE 2
Our Social Media Manager has noticed a new Facebook addition. Even though she is still on the old user interface she has noticed the addition of a ‘Trending News’ feature on the right hand side of her Home page. Helena explains more in her newest blog post.
March 2014 UPDATE 3
This time it’s our tech officer who has noticed yet another development to the new Facebook user interface. Facebook seems to have reverted back to a few of the features that they had left with the old UI whilst making a one new aesthetic change.
1. No Last Name
First the small change. Facebook have removed your last name from the top navigation bar leaving you with just your first name or any middle names that you have. Functionally it offers nothing but Facebook has decided that we’re all cool enough to parade around with a last name so enjoy.
2. Goodbye Streamlined Side Navigation
When Facebook gave our tech officer the new UI this was his favourite new feature. Facebook had removed the clunky long list that the majority of us still have and replaced it with a more streamlined, visually pleasing navigation bar. Facebook has decidedly reverted back to the previously mentioned ‘clunky’ list and has removed the rather different navigation bar favoured by our Tech Officer Conor. This could all be a matter of tastes and some people may welcome a change back, but here at Nova we quite liked the de-cluttered version.
3. Welcome Back Mini News-Feed
Another change back to the previous UI Facebook had originally removed the mini news-feed located above your chat bar, allowing just one long chat bar that went from the top to the bottom of your page. There are positives to both lay-outs, having a mini-news feed gives you real-time updates of your friend’s activities whilst having just a column dedicated to who is online means you do not have to scroll through endlessly to see who is online. Either way Facebook has made the decision for you and has reverted back to having a split column the top half showing updated activities and the bottom half showing who is available to chat.
These were the changes that we have noticed so far, have you noticed any others? What do you think of the newest updates?