Here’s a tale of two Facebook pages. One page features the latest look from the social network—a dynamic redesign. The other is perhaps the most boring version of the website one could imagine.
It is known that Facebook tries out different versions of its social network on different users. Today, the company even highlighted that fact by revealing how it tests features on its mobile app by delivering slightly altered experiences and seeing which ones generate the best reaction. Then after evaluating which features and designs work best, Facebook rolls out the winning formula to all users.
It’s what’s known as A/B testing, and Facebook does the same on desktop computers.
In fact, Facebook has been testing a complete redesign for months that overhauls the desktop experience with new icons, larger photos and autoplay video. It is a more dynamic version of Facebook, and it has slowly rolled out to select users but stalled on its wider roll-out, according to reports last year.
Not all tests introduce bold, innovative design to users. Today, a Facebook user shared what could be the worst Facebook page out there. The media elements are slight as thumbnails and text dominates the page. It looks like Facebook 1.0 from 2004. And it was just sprung on the user who reacted with “good lord, they changed Facebook.”
“This is a small design test we are currently running,” a Facebook spokeswoman said. “We are constantly testing new features across the site and have nothing more to share at this time.”
It was unclear why Facebook would even float such a bland design when the Web is moving to bigger media experiences. Rivals like Twitter have evolved beyond text-based roots to introduce more photos and videos that entice more advertisers. Of course, Facebook is going in the same direction for most users with bolder design on mobile and desktop.
Facebook has even introduced autoplay videos, which have livened up the News Feed —some have said maybe even too much. Still, that dynamic presentation isn't a problem on the boring version that at least some users are seeing on desktop.