Facebook Testing New Access Points for Viral Communication Channels

Earlier today, we covered two upcoming changes to Facebook’s home page and News Feed:

  1. Facebook is returning to a “Top News” stream as the default home page feed, pushing the real-time stream to a secondary tab.
  2. Groups are now getting partial News Feed presence.

Now, some users are seeing additional UI tests Facebook is running in the site’s header. In the tests, the header contains new icons for users to access Facebook’s core communication channels: notifications, requests, and messages.

The number of unread notifications, requests, or messages appears in a red bubble in the header, just as notifications do now in the site’s application bar at the bottom of the screen. By mousing over any one of the three new icons, users can access unread messages in a dropdown.

Given the prominence of the notification and request alerts, we would expect this change to increase viral channel engagement and conversion for app developers. However, three red balloons at the top of the screen may also seem daunting to some users who have many applications.

“The navigation menu is just one of many things across the site that we’re testing in order to simplify and improve the user experience,” a Facebook spokesperson told us.

Thanks to Navarr Barnier for the tip.

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