The Unofficial Guide to the New Facebook Profile

As announced, Facebook will be releasing the updated version of the Facebook profile by tomorrow. It has taken the Facebook team over five months of development and iterations based on user and developer feedback. It has been a challenging time for developers as well as the Facebook team and many are eagerly anticipating the launch to see what the end result is. There could be backlash from the users as well as developers depending on how things pan out. Regardless of what happens, the profile will eventually change permanently so we figured this would be a great opportunity to give a thorough overview of the changes.

General Facebook Profile Overview

The new profile has been substantially modified from the original for the purpose of making it more visually compelling and reducing the clutter created by multiple applications being installed. Rather than a single profile page, there is a new four-tabbed system by default. The default tabs included are “Wall”, “Info”, “Photos”, and “Boxes”. I go into more detail about each of these tabs below. There is one additional tab which enables users to add an infinite number of their “favorite” Facebook applications, two of which will receive visible profile tabs.

New Profile Screenshot

The Wall

Previously, user profiles had a Wall and a mini-feed. The mini-feed displayed recent activities of the users and the wall was a place where friends of that user could post content including notes, photos, videos and any content that user-installed applications would enable the user to post. All of that has now been condensed into one feed. Within that feed, users can select whether or not they would like to view all posts, posts only by the profile owner and posts by others. Below are screenshots of each of the features and a description of the features’ visibility.

Status Update

Just like before Facebook enables users to update their status from within the profile. In addition to updating your status by clicking on the text of your status, a text box has been added to the wall to enable users to update their status from a second location within the profile. That change in status is directly reflected both at the top of the user’s profile as well as within the user’s feed. The status update box is only visible to the profile owner and is not visible when viewing another user’s profile.

Facebook Profile Wall Status Update Screenshot

Post New Note

Previously, creating a note on Facebook required visiting the “Notes” application. If you aren’t aware of the notes application, it is functions just the way it sounds. You can create notes which includes text and a photo. You can also tag your friends in notes and they will be notified via their feed that they were tagged, driving them to visit and read the note you published. Currently it doesn’t appear as though you can manage the visibility of a note from within your wall. Typically you can limit the visibility of a note to “Everyone”, “Your Networks and Friends”, “Friends of Friends”, specific friends or specific networks you are a member of. I’m guessing that Facebook will soon add this functionality and as they do we will update this guide.

Facebook Profile Wall Post Note Screenshot

Post Photos

There are a number of ways that Facebook has now enabled users to post photos from within a user’s profile. Currently you can create albums, post photos and take photos from within your own profile. When you visit another person’s profile you can only post a profile and take a photo but not create an album.

Create Album
Rather than visiting the photos application to create an album, Facebook has made it so that you can create an album directly from within your profile. This makes navigating to numerous pages just to upload photos unnecessary.

Facebook Profile Wall Create Album Screenshot

Post Photo
Once you’ve created an album you can now directly upload your photos to them. Currently there is not a mass upload feature though. Instead you can upload pictures individually. This appears to make more sense for posting photos on your friends’ walls rather than on your own. One thing I don’t know about is if you upload a picture to your friend’s wall, whether or not it will display in your personal albums.

Facebook Profile Wall Post Photo Screenshot

Take Photo
This is a pretty sweet new feature. Now you can take a picture directly from within the wall. This makes a lot of sense for posting on your friends’ walls. It makes the photos about instant communication and communication is what Facebook is all about. I’d imagine that this feature will be used much more heavily.

Facebook Profile Take Photo Screenshot

Post Videos

In addition to photographs, users can now publish videos directly from within the profile publisher tool. Currently you can record live video and upload a video from within your own profile. The video feature increases the communication models for users and also expand the types of media that can be published.

Record Video
This feature is practically identical to the take a photo feature except that you can actually record live video that is then posted to your wall or the wall of the person you decide to post to. This is also a new feature that I expect to see highly used. It’s an easy way to leave a media-rich message with your friends’.

Facebook Profile Record Video

Upload Video
If you don’t want to record a live video and have another type of video that you would like to share, you can use the video upload tool directly in the publisher. This feature is only available to users directly from their own profile. You cannot upload videos while visiting a friend’s profile.

Facebook Profile Upload Video

Links

Links are another way to communicate with other users. Rather than publishing entire notes, sometimes it is significantly easier just to publish the link of another article. Currently links will display an image from the article you reference as well as the article title and a sampling of the content within the article.

Post Link
Posting a link is just as it has always been. You can post a link of an article on your wall as well as your friends’ walls. When you enter the link you first click “Preview” to see how the link will be displayed. I can envision some users making taking advantage of this to spam other users.

Facebook Profile Upload Video

Gifting

Gifting is one of Facebook’s unique features. Typically users send gifts to each other for birthdays and special occasions. In this regard, the profile is not much different from before. There doesn’t appear to be a way to view all of a user’s received gifts but when a gift is sent it will show up directly on their wall.

Send Gift
This feature will not display on your own profile page as there is no purpose of sending yourself a gift (although I like to purchase gifts for myself on occasion). This functions similarly to the send gift feature that was previously on profile walls.

Facebook Profile Upload Video

Info Tab

Previously Facebook included all user information on one page. They have now expanded the various profile information into multiple tabs, the second of which is the “Info” tab. On this tab all person user information is displayed including their basic information, personal information, contact information, education and work, groups and pages. This is practically the same to the right hand column of the old profile minus the wall and any applications.

Profile Info Tab Screenshot

Photos Tab

Previously users would need to click on a link under a user’s picture within their profile to see that individual’s photos. Facebook has now integrated the photos into one tab which displays both albums and photos of that user. This makes it easier to navigate through the user’s photos and it also emphasizes Facebook’s emphasize on leveraging multimedia to help a user express themselves. Previously there was much more text but with the redesign we now see the increased usage of photographs and videos.

Profile Photos Tab Screenshot

Boxes Tab

Remember all the applications that were cluttering user profiles? That’s now a thing of the past. Facebook now has a separate tab for users to display all of their applications. This increases the emphasis on a user’s feed and decreases the emphasis on applications. Rather than calling the tab “Applications” or “Apps”, Facebook decided to go with the term “Boxes”. I’m not sure what the benefit is of using that phrase is. Regardless, all of the applications that you once displayed on your profile page have now been placed within the boxes tab.

Alternatively, applications can place themselves within the narrow left-hand column of the profile, but they must have a limited height. Facebook wants to ensure that the main page of user profiles is extremely clean. This change will most definitely reduce the number of click-thrus to applications, something many developers have complained about. We will have to wait a few days to see how significantly this change impacts application growth.

Boxes Tab Screenshot

Application Tabs

Not all is ruined for applications by the “boxes” tab. Facebook has enabled users to also create custom tabs for applications. Currently, the profile is limited to visibly displaying up to two new tabs, all additional tabs will be visible via an arrow tab within your profile. While I haven’t seen any exceptional uses of this new tab, I think that we could start seeing some innovative new applications that take advantage of the tab. The best will help users extend the utility of the profile as well as help users express themselves.

Boxes Tab Screenshot

Conclusion

The new Facebook profile redesign is one of the most significant changes since the launch of the platform last year. The design emphasizes simplicity and cleanliness. Additionally, there is now room for Facebook to display larger advertisements along side of the profile. Over the coming weeks, Facebook will be rolling out the updated version of the profile to all users, eventually making it the default profile for everyone. If there are any changes made in that time, we will be sure to update this guide.