Facebook has slowly been rolling out “hovercards” to show previews of profiles, Pages, events and groups when their names are moused over on the news feed. This new design element, which has been spotted over the past few months, allows users to learn more about and interact with items in their feeds without opening a new tab or navigating away. The feature encourages a calm, single-window browsing experience versus a cluttered, fatigue-inducing array of active Facebook windows.
While the concepts of hovercards have been around for years, Facebook’s closest rival, Twitter, notably recently introduced them, too.
On Facebook, a hovercard pops up in the news or most recent feed when a user’s mouse cursor hovers over the linked name of a profile (friend or otherwise), group, event, community Page or official Page. Each hovercard displays its object’s photo in its original aspect ratio at approximately four times the size of a news feed thumbnail. Hovercards of friends reveal their networks, the number of mutual friends along with up to 5 mini-thumbnails of these friends, and an option to message them. Hovercards of non-friends include an option to add them as a friend. Those for Pages show their Page category, how many people like them, how many friends like them plus a few mini-thumbnails, and the option to like the Page if you don’t already. Absent are the options to unlike or defriend.
Event hovercards are especially useful, as they allow you to determine the time of the event, location (if short enough to fit) and who you know is attending, as well as RSVP. This relatively low impact decision that is often based on the decisions of friends is perfect for quickly conducting within a hovercard. In order to maintain or increase the 55 minutes a day the average user spends on the site, it’s important that Facebook continues to prevent exhaustion by making information as easy to find as possible.