Facebook Announces Updates to New Home Page in Response to User Feedback

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Since Facebook launched the redesigned home page two weeks ago, there has been a variety of feedback from users and press. Today, Facebook announced that it will be making some changes to the new home page in response to that feedback in the near future:

1. Live updating of the home page stream. Facebook said it will be adding this “soon” – now you will no longer need to refresh the page. Many users had requested that it update automatically.

2. Photos of tagged friends in the stream. Facebook said it will be adding photos of your tagged friends to the stream in “the coming weeks.” Photos of tagged friends were very prominent in the old News Feed.

3. More filters on application content. “We’ve heard feedback that there is a lot of application content appearing in the stream,” Facebook says. “We will be giving you tools to control and reduce application content that your friends share into your stream.” As we documented this morning, many of the fastest growing apps on the Facebook Platform since the home page redesign have been personality quizzes, and users have been complaining that quiz results have been taking up too much space in the stream (even though they were all intentionally shared by friends). Now, it sounds like Facebook may start letting users hide feed stories per application, not just per person.

4. More frequently updated highlights. Highlights will update more frequently throughout the day “to mirror more closely the content that the earlier News Feed provided.” Some users have complained that the highlights are not relevant enough and too stale.

5. Moving requests back to the top right column. Facebook will be moving friend requests and app requests back to the right column, likely because conversion rates went down when they moved them to their current location next to the welcome message.

6. Enabling friend list creation right from the home page. Currently, creating a friend list is not that easy – users have to go to the Friends page and create a new list.

In addition, Facebook said that it is thinking about making additional updates to the stream in the future. “We have the eventual goal of building filters that summarize this activity so you can see a more condensed view of what’s been going on. We’re also thinking about ways of filtering out some of the Wall posts and content directed to specific people to focus more on posts shared with everyone.”

Facebook is balancing its goals of turning the service into a real-time communications platform with users who are accustomed to using the site in different ways and who have configured their experience according to those use patterns. For example, many people around Silicon Valley complain that they built their Facebook friend list with different intentions than subscribing to their update stream, while many other casual users say that they can’t even tell the difference.

These updates fix many of the usability issues associated with the new stream, but don’t fundamentally change the direction Facebook is going.