Facebook News Feed Product Manager Greg Marra Discusses Its New Look

By David Cohen 

NewsFeedUpdateMarch2014650Facebook announced an overhaul of the design for its News Feed last week, but why did the social network choose to go in certain directions with its primary destination? News Feed Product Manager Greg Marra spoke with Jennifer Van Grove of CNET and shed some light on the topic.

On why Facebook never fully rolled out the revamped News Feed it introduced last March and chose to switch gears, Marra told Van Grove:

We found that some parts of this updated design for News Feed were working for people, but others weren’t. For example, the left-hand navigation bar showed fewer links to your groups and applications if you were on a smaller screen, and many people on smaller screens told us it took much more effort to visit these parts of Facebook with this design. We wanted to take the time to listen to this feedback, understand it, and make changes that improved the new design. That’s what we’ve been working on for the past year in order to get to the design we’re rolling out now.

After a few months, we realized that we were going to need to do some bigger revamps and change some of the bigger elements of the design, especially the links to navigate around the site. All of the parts of the site have to fit together into one cohesive design, so moving one thing causes rippling changes that require adjustments elsewhere. We got the next big iteration of the design ready, tested it, found that it worked well for people, and that’s what we’re rolling out now.

On the options for different feeds that were part of the News Feed redesign last March, he said:

We saw that there were some feeds people enjoyed and checked often, and there were some feeds people checked a few times and then stopped using. We’re keeping around the feeds people liked the most — Games Feed, Pages Feed, Friends List Feeds — but are removing some that people didn’t use.

Van Grove asked Marra about larger photos, and he replied:

People love looking at photos on Facebook, and this was one of the parts of the design people told us they liked. Over time, more and more of News Feed is photos, so we want to show them as best we can. Having larger photos means you don’t have to click to see photos in the photo viewer as often, so it’s easier for you to see what your friends are sharing. We present individual photos in their original aspect ratio, and posts with multiple photos have a tiled grid of photos.

Marra also addressed the change in fonts:

The new fonts are simpler sans-serif fonts, and are more like system fonts. We’re trying to help the design get out of the way so you can focus on what your friends are sharing.

Finally, on users’ reaction to the new design, Marra told Van Grove:

We heard from people that parts of the redesign worked for them and parts of it didn’t. People come to Facebook to share with their friends, and it’s important that our designs don’t get in the way. We saw that some parts of the redesign, such as the navigation changes that meant it took more effort to get around on smaller screen sizes, made it harder for people to see what their friends were sharing, so we’ve improved that part in the version we’re rolling out to everyone.

Readers: What did you think of the new design for News Feed?