Facebook Condenses the Groups Interface, Leaving More Space for Ads

Facebook has changed the interface of its Groups product, relocating several navigation buttons from the center of the right sidebar to the top of each Group page. The subtle redesign frees up space in the sidebar to show more ads and Facebook’s own modules such as People You May Know. This could help Facebook better monetize time spent on Groups.

Groups launched in October 2010 with the goal of creating designated spaces where a limited set of friends could share private information, such as family, a sports team, or a group for friends organizing a vacation. Since then, Facebook has revamped its privacy controls to make it easier to share with specific Friend Lists, reducing the need for Groups. Many strong use cases remain, though, such as facilitating sharing between non-friends around an interest topic.

In April, Facebook has made a few changes to Groups. It added an in-Group search bar for finding specific posts, began allowing users to upload whole photo albums, and added Questions to the Publisher. It gave admins of closed and secret Groups the option to require administrative approval for all new members. This can help keep Group content from being exposed to unauthorized users by one of the Group’s members, and also helps admins control the size of their Groups. It also launched the Send button, a social plugin that publishes content from an external website to a specific Group.

Now, the top center of each Group displays the number of photos and docs that have been uploaded there, and users can click though to view them or add their own. Previously, links to view photos and view or create Docs were somewhat buried down in the right sidebar and took up a lot of space. By relocating their links to the top of Groups, Facebook is reminding users that rich media can be shared to Groups and making it easier to access this content.

Links to create a Group event, and edit or leave a Group have been relocated into a settings drop-down menu in the top right corner. The edit Group interface tabs have been combined into a single screen. A Group’s description is now shown in the right sidebar. If a Group has a long description, it will be folded into a “See More” link, but will still occupy much of the room freed up by the other changes.

Except for Groups with long descriptions, these updates to the interface create enough additional space in the right sidebar to show roughly two more ads or Facebook modules above the fold. This will allow Facebook to derive more ad revenue, content engagement, and encourage more connections between users from Groups traffic.