Today, many Facebook users saw several changes to Pages, most visibly a new layout which moved to the left side the navigation tabs for switching between the wall, info, and other in-house and third-party apps. Other changes included the removal of the option to set a default landing tab, and the added ability for admins to switch between designated accounts for the Pages they control. However, this was an inadvertent push of prototypes, and the site was briefly taken offline to rolled back the changes.
The rearranged Pages interface functions similarly to the recently redesigned user profiles, Places, and merged Places Pages. All tabs, including third-party tabs, appear in a list of text links below the Page’s picture. The change makes these tabs less prominent, and could reduce the frequency with which users explore tab apps. This could anger Page admins who use Like-gated promotions housed on these tabs to drive growth.
The option to set a default landing tab in the Page admin interface was not present in the prototype. Therefore, users would always see the wall, and have to click the new sidebar navigation links to visit other tabs. Many Pages admins set the default landing tabs to show a link to their website, their latest promotional tab app, or the core functionality of their Page. The removal of this option could hurt the Page management industry which charges brands to design these tabs and apps, and slow Page growth due to the loss of potential affinity custom tabs generate. Facebook could have made the change in order to make the user experience more consistent.
Admins may be placated by the newfound ability to switch between their primary personal account and Page-specific accounts. This change allows admins to more easily manage multiple Pages, know exactly which account they’re posting as, and post as their personal profile to a Page they control. Previously, admins would sometimes create fake personal accounts and make them admins of different Pages to handle these cases. Facilitating multi-Page management without forcing admins to violate Facebook’s terms of service is important as it becomes more common for professional Page admins to work with multiple brands.
After the changes were pushed and the site was pulled offline, Facebook tweeted, “Facebook is available again after being down for a brief period. We apologize for the inconvenience… Also, some internal prototypes were exposed to people and resulted in us disabling the site briefly. It’s now back to normal.” This means any of these alterations in functionality could be modified or not rolled out.
We would be surprised if Facebook removed the ability to set default landing tabs, as while they do make browsing Facebook less predictable, they increase engagement and inspire Pages to buy ads which point towards them. Still, the layout change which is in keeping with new sidebar navigation layouts for many parts of the site is likely on the horizon.
[Thanks to Eti Surazon for the tip]