Facebook changes; everyone complains

This time it’s Facebook’s new ‘timeline’ feature for users’ profiles:

There it is. Image courtesy TechCrunch.

The world’s more thoughtful people have already anticipated the flood of ‘I hate the new Facebook’ statuses that will hit Facebook in massive, explosive waves of fury over the next few weeks. More on my views after the break.

Fred McNulty, writing at Bloody Shrubbery, has some harsh words for those angry statuses:

Yes, the Facebook ‘timeline’ is being advertised as a revolutionary change, but is it really? It looks different, it will take about a week to get used to and it makes looking back at previous Facebook history extremely easy. I do not mean to squash legitimate complaints of Facebook, but posting an aggravated status every season when Facebook makes a supposedly revolutionary change is getting old.

Seems about right. Most complaining statuses are just the typical people upset with change of any sort. This time around, however, I’m going to add my own voice to the angry chorus. (I do, however, think that my complaints count as “legitimate.”) Because the truth is that the ‘timeline,’ while not quite ill-conceived, is visually a real mess.

The biggest problem is in the separation of posts onto two different sides of a central ‘timeline.’ This means that following chronologically the events on one’s profile is no longer as simple as scrolling through and seeing them one on top of the other. A few minutes with this layout and you’ll find that you don’t like the extra effort of having to look back and forth. It’s not intuitive.

Is it a huge deal? No, not really. But Facebook is a site that has largely succeeded based on its simplicity and ease of use. The ‘timeline’ is a step in the wrong direction.

There are other issues with the ‘timeline’ as well. Information about the user is not as well organized. The ads on the side feel a bit cluttered. And the light blue background, though visually perfectly fine, should be uniform across the entire site (currently, the rest of Facebook’s background is still white, though maybe that will soon change).

The cover photo across the top is an interesting concept, and for me, the jury’s still out on it. On the one hand, I like that Facebook is freeing its users a bit on their own pages. On the other, in almost every case I’ve seen where someone has put up a cover photo, the page ends up looking messy and difficult to navigate.

The best thing about the ‘timeline’ is that now users can scroll through their own histories and jump from month to month or year to year with exceptional ease. But Facebook didn’t need to overcomplicate and clutter users’ pages with silly visual schemes in order to implement that one feature.

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