A look at Facebook’s new layout


This screengrab of Facebook's streaming news feed event shows the social network's new layout, which focuses heavily on visual elements. (Screengrab by Hayley Tsukayama/Screengrab by Hayley Tsukayama)
March 8, 2013

Here’s a quick verdict on Facebook’s new layout: it’s nice and clean, but maybe a little too clean.

The larger, more picture-centric posts are easy on the eyes, music to the ears of advertisers who want they take up more screen real-estate , meaning that users see fewer posts per glance at the screen. In a wholly unscientific comparison between the two layouts, I went from being able to see four posts on the old layout to two on the new one.

Those changes could certainly “increase engagement” — I did take more time looking at a post from Major League Baseball than I would have in a quick scan on the old feed. But I was already losing my patience with the idea that I may have to scroll for a long time before I saw anything that really piqued my interest.

That gripe aside, Facebook’s new layout does have its strengths. For example, it gives you quite a few feeds to choose from, including the options to sort your feed only to find certain updates, such as photos, updates from people you follow, or posts from certain friend groups.

In that respect, the new design for the news feed should cheer anyone who’s ever felt overwhelmed by the floods of updates they get from friends, businesses and organizations when they look at the site. (It should also look pretty familiar to anyone who’s used Google+.) And being able to sort through all those groups makes the information much easier to manage and to digest.

For users who still want to see the traditional news feed with its mix of everything on the site, there’s the “News Feed” option. And while Facebook has removed its real-time update stream from the top right-hand corner of the site, those constant updates are still visible — either one-at-a-time in the lower-left hand corner or through the “Most Recent” filter.

A new handy tool-bar on the left-hand side of the page is also a great addition to the site, which provides a clear one-stop shop to get you between your news feed, messages, events, apps, groups and chat. The options aren’t actually that different from the old layout, but have a dark gray backdrop pulled from Facebook’s mobile app that makes the menu much more noticeable.

(Washington Post Co. chairman and chief executive Donald E. Graham is a member of Facebook’s board.)

Related stories:

Facebook to change news feed to a ‘personalized newspaper’

Facebook sends invite promising ‘new look for the News Feed’

University of California chancellor is second woman to join Facebook board of directors

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Hayley Tsukayama covers consumer technology for The Washington Post.
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