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My first reaction when I saw Facebook’s new profile format, Timeline, was “What the hell is this?”.  The format has changed from a 1 + 2 column format (1 main column and 2 smaller side columns) to a 2 + 1 format (2 main columns with 1 small side column).  What this has done is made the interface less intuitive.

With the old interface the interface was straight forward.  Control items were on the left, content in the center, and ads on the right.  In Timeline control and content elements mixed in the two main columns and ads are, again, on the right.  The place to enter your status updates is no longer at the top of your profile.  It is in one of the columns.  It took me a few seconds to find it the first time.  The top spot is replace with a large (spanning 2 columns) photo from your profile.

The organization of the columns is chronological.  There is a vertical line separating the two main columns that gives the new interface its name.  Status updates are added in alternating columns and connected to a dot on the timeline with a small triangle.  This does allow for two posts in the same amount of space the old interface would have only allowed for one.  However, this is confusing and unnatural.  People are used to scanning down the page for content.  Now people have to scan down the page in a zig-zag pattern.  This is just not intuitive.

Another annoyance is the addition of new automatically created content elements.  Your list of friends an element in one of the columns of your timeline.  Games you have recently played are in one of the columns of your timeline.  Recent likes, places, activity, and apps used are all automatically added to your timeline.  So, in addition to having to zig zag down the page to find status updates, you now have to decide if the updates are real or auto generated.

There is one feature I like about Timeline.  You can choose to have an update span the two columns.  That is a nice way to emphasize a post that was not available in the old interface.  Unfortunately, this is the only feature I like.

C’mon, Facebook.  I understand a business has to innovate to survive, but I can see in a glance that this is your New Coke.

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