Today Facebook began forcibly migrating users to the profile redesign which was launched as an optional upgrade on December 6th, 2010. The redesign puts more focus on a user’s profile information such as their work, current city, and relationship status, and displays recently tagged photos, family members, and selected Groups or friend lists on the profile’s default landing tab. A minority of users have been protesting the redesign and refusing to upgrade on the grounds that the recently tagged photos panel gives friends too much power over what is displayed on their profile, but they will have to grow to accept it.
When Facebook first released the redesign, it was opt-in. Users could press a “Get the New Profile” button on the profile of a friend who had upgraded, or from the new profile’s introduction page. Later, Facebook began showing prompts to upgrade on the home page. There was no way to revert to the old profile design once one had upgraded. While a few users initially complained, which is standard when there is any change to the Facebook interface, enough users upgraded voluntarily and there wasn’t significant sustained protest to dissuade Facebook from a full rollout.
Starting today, any users who’ve yet to upgrade will be migrated to the redesign. There is no option to prevent this, which will likely disgruntle members of the small protest groups including “No to the new FB profile layout” and “New Facebook Profile Sucks.” Users often protest not because they have specific concerns with changes, but simply because they’ve grown familiar with one layout and don’t wish to acclimate to a new one. Facebook has learned to expect these complaints, diffuse the anger through gradual rollouts, and to only backtrack if the company agrees there is a real problem after careful consideration.
In our opinion, the profile redesign is good for users. It makes visiting a new friend or potential friend’s profile a more similar experience to a real-life introduction. Users get to see how the person currently looks thanks to the recently tagged photos panel, learn the answers to commonly asked questions like “Where did you grow up?” from the profile info summary, and figure out what interests they have in common through the friendship preview. The redesign also promotes accuracy of profile info by making this info so prominent, while users often forgot to update their work or current city for years at a time with the old design.
The redesigned profile isn’t perfect, and will likely continue to be updated with time. A warning that the members of a friend list added to the Featured People section will be notified of their inclusion in the list could prevent some interpersonal drama. Users who’ve been friends for a long time likely know all of each other’s biographical info, and are more interested in the content of a friend’s wall, which has been pushed down in the redesign. Facebook allows users to hide photos from their recently tagged photos panel, but some users might wish they hadn’t hidden a photo they at first thought was unflattering. Facebook included an “Unhide all” button to the profile editor to fix this.
By guiding users towards giving a more accurate and realistic impression of themselves through the profile, Facebook has succeeded with this redesign. Similar to the news feed, it will just take some time to get used to.