Facebook today unveiled a redesigned newsfeed that incorporates bigger images and allows customisation, giving the site a much-needed overhaul that the company hopes will ultimately keep user attention and attract advertisers.
Facebook's redesigned newsfeed will be the same for mobile and desktop.
(Screenshot by Josh Lowensohn/CNET)
Chief executive Mark Zuckerberg noted that Facebook's goals for the new newsfeed include richer story design, choice of different feeds and a consistent experience on mobile devices and desktop web browsers.
"What we're trying to do is give everyone in the world the best personalised newspaper we can," Zuckerberg said. "The best personalised newspaper should be intricate, rich and engaging."
The changes include a redesigned layout with larger images of maps, news articles, photos and apps information, like a Pinterest post. Users can choose to sort the feed chronologically, or only look at things like what music people are listening to or what events are happening. And depending on the things a user has liked on Facebook in the past, he or she will see articles that are trending and that are most relevant.
The company also noted that it has several new feeds to explore in addition to the same newsfeed that users have today. They include:
All Friends: a feed that shows you everything your friends are sharing
Photos: a feed with nothing but photos from your friends and from the Pages that you 've liked
Music: a feed with posts about the music you listen to
Following: a feed with the latest news from the Pages that you've liked and the people you follow.
Chris Cox, vice president of product at Facebook, said that the company wanted a "more modern and clean" interface for users. He noted that the company took design principles from phones and tablets, and brought them over to the web.
The redesigned newsfeed will start rolling out to a small number of people on the web today, and will then show up on phones and tablets over the next few weeks.
"Because this is a big change on the web, we're going to be very careful and slow in how we move it out," Cox said. When the product is more "polished", it will be rolled out broadly.
This is the first big overhaul of the newsfeed, the first page people see when logging into the site, since Facebook debuted the product in September 2006. The changes could have significant, far-reaching consequences that affect how people use Facebook and determine whether the social network can capitalise on its most prized asset without driving people away.
The newsfeed may have been due for an update, but that doesn't mean that users are going to like it. Even the slightest adjustments, like the ability to sort by Top Stories or Most Recent — a feature added in late 2011 — have angered Facebook some users in the past. Facebook often tweaks its offering and introduces new items to its site, but few have been as noticeable as the ones being made this time around.
As CNET noted yesterday, Facebook needs this updated newsfeed to help it regain the status it has lost with teens, a group of digital trendsetters who will determine whether the social network can withstand the test of time or become the next Friendster.
The new, image-centric feed may give these youngsters, who have a predilection for Instagram, a reason to stay and browse a little while longer.
If you're keen to try it out, you can sign up here.