Saturday, August 9, 2008

Facebook Layout Redesign to Help Users Share

Facebook is sporting a new look to reflect changes in how its members communicate with each other and how they share photos and updates about their lives.

Central to the redesign is an expanded Wall, the section of a member's personal profile page where friends can leave comments and photos. Now, people can add items more easily, and the Wall will incorporate reports on a user's activities previously found on a user's "Mini-Feed."

The upgrade comes as Facebook and rival MySpace from News Corp. vies to become the main hub of online communications. Both websites are reorganizing their layouts this summer to reduce clutter and make information easier to find.

The changes stem from the growing comfort people have with sharing details about their personal lives more frequently and in smaller bursts, such as on the "microblogging" website Twitter.

The Facebook redesign seeks to make these now-disparate pieces of information easier to find at a central location. It means that the website will organize information into tabs to reduce clutter. The advantage of this development is users will get more control over what appears on their feeds, with the ability to add as well as delete individual items.

According to Mark Slee, lead product manager at Facebook, instead of creating a full blog entry or photo album, Facebook users are apt to share just a single image or update the one-sentence status message on their profile. Moreover, Facebook profiles are loaded with information generated from games and other applications that Facebook started letting outside developers write last year.

Slee said no information about a user's online behavior that was not previously public would suddenly become posted to the Wall. This is a sensitive subject at Facebook, which faced privacy criticisms when feeds first began, though now they are a staple of the website. Then last year a tracking tool called "Beacon" caught users off guard by broadcasting information about their shopping activities and habits at other websites. Facebook ultimately allowed users to turn Beacon off.

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