Six Months Later: A Look Back At The Facebook Profile Redesign

This week Facebook is expected to migrate all users to the redesigned version of the site, almost six months since the initial profile redesign announcement. Today, we look back on the three major stories that have arisen during this process: user backlash, app declines, and application bookmarking.

User complaints

Much like the introduction of the News Feed, the profile redesign has spurred significant user feedback and criticism. Some Facebook groups critical of the new design now have millions of members, and the backlash has even extended to the Facebook developers forum and comments on this very blog. Blogs and major news outfits alike have extensively covered both of the redesign, and the subsequent negative reactions.

Given that Facebook now claims over 100 million active users, the backlash has been relatively minimal. By gradually migrating to the new design, Facebook has successfully placated most users, though the slow roll-out has made development difficult for some app developers.

Anecdotal evidence of app declines

Along with the site redesign came the monthly active user metric, which has made comparative analysis of applications’ performance pre and post redesign challenging. Further complicating this analysis is the inclusion of tabbed views in the MAU metric, as before profile box views were not included in the reported DAUs. For the purposes of analysis, daily unique canvas page views is the best metric available for retroactive comparison.

With that being said, some developers have shared graphs (shown below) in the Facebook developer forums that suggest a downward trend for overall platform usage.

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But in one developer forum thread, a Facebook representative posted the following in response to developers’ feedback:

Since the cut over began, aggregate Platform usage has continued to increase. The apps that have made the greatest effort to take advantage of the new integration opportunities are starting to see the positive results… Developers should continue to try out innovative ways to include the new integration channels and features in their applications. We acknowledge that applications that depended on traffic from certain features that are no longer available or prominent may see decreases if developers have not modified their applications to focus on the new ways of sharing and integrating into profiles.

It is too early to tell how the platform will ultimately be impacted by the site’s changes. The increased focus on feeds and the reduction of app clutter should benefit developers in the future, but in the near term the impact of these changes is still an unknown. While the general sentiment is that the changes have hurt applications, the fact that aggregate Platform usage continues to increase is an exceedingly positive sign.

Bookmarking and the application menu

The biggest change made to the new Facebook design in recent weeks was the application menu bar, which was introduced as a means of improving apps’ visibility, particularly after the removal of the left side-bar links. The introduction of the menu bar has significantly increased the importance of app bookmarking, which has become the platform’s primary means of app re-discovery. However, some have questioned the current implementation, especially the absence of a recently used section.

Conclusion

The profile redesign has been a delicate balancing act for Facebook, as even the slightest change can materially impact developers’ statistics and users’ contentedness. It remains to be seen if these changes ultimately will have a positive impact on the Platform, and if developers will be able to quickly adapt in the near future.