Facebook Profile Redesign Will Coax More Data From Users: An In-Depth Review

Facebook has released a major redesign of the user profile which makes more profile info, photos, and friends immediately visible. A single panel navigation system, image-accompanied Likes, Friendship Page previews, and the ability to tag friends in your work, school, and sports info are also new. While some features have been stripped out, profiles are now much more visually compelling. By increasing the prominence of biographical information and connections, Facebook has found a natural way to get users to share more.

The last profile redesign in mid-2008 merged the wall and activity feed and gave users the content publisher. Facebook has since split the publisher into tabs for different content types, increased the number of ads per page to four, and removed profile boxes and application tabs. The recently launched Friendship Page which displays mutual content and connections of two users, and the conversion of static interests into connections from f8 paved the way for the new design.

Opt-in Rollout

Facebook is currently pushing out the profile redesign through an opt-in system which should diffuse user protests. When visiting the profile of a friend who has upgraded, users are shown an invitation to “Get the New Profile”. Alternatively they can visit the new profile about page where they can view a video or screenshots explaining the changes. A facepile of friends who’ve upgraded provides a social recommendation for switching. Users can click to implement the redesign —  changing their own profile and making the profiles of their friends appear redesigned as well. From there, users are brought to their upgraded profile and given the option to take a tour of the changes. Once a user has upgraded, there doesn’t appear to be way to go back to the the old design.

New Features

Profile Info Summary

The top of a user’s profile shows a Profile Info Summary, which includes what Facebook says are “the kinds of conversation starters you share with people you’ve just met or exchange with old friends as you get reacquainted.” A user’s job position and employer, concentration and university, current city, relationship and with who, languages spoken, hometown, and birthday are all listed front and center.

Clicking the links of schools or workplaces opens the corresponding Community Page, unless it has been claimed and merged into an official Page. This means the Profile Info Summary won’t always translate into increased Page discoverability.

Many of the included characteristics can be targeted through the performance advertising system. It’s therefore in Facebook’s interest for users to provide and keep current this information. Prompts for users to enter absent information and the the increased visibility of these fields to a user and their friends should ensure this. Utility applications, especially recruiting apps such as BranchOut could also benefit from increased profile info accuracy.

This new section emphasizes the more stable elements of a person’s identity. This gives a more thorough understanding a user than the old design which gave more prominence to recent actions taken on Facebook. A user’s latest status update no longer appears at the top of their profile, making it more difficult to determine their current mood or activity.

Recently Tagged Photos

Recently Tagged Photos shows the five most recent photos a user was tagged in. Clicking one of the photos opens the light box view of the tagged photos album. This change makes photos other than a user’s profile picture immediately visible, providing a more balanced, long term look at that person’s identity.

In the tour of the redesign, Facebook stresses in bold that “privacy settings have not changed. Only people you’ve allowed to view photos you’re tagged in will see these photos.”