Breaking: Facebook Profile Redesign – Detailed Specs & First Impressions

As most people in the Facebook developer community are aware, the upcoming Facebook profile redesign is the biggest and most far-reaching project at the company so far this year. Its impact on users and developers will be significant, and Facebook hopes it will create a better and more valuable experience for all.

Facebook Profile Redesign - Boxes Tab ScreenshotToday, Facebook is announcing detailed specs on how Facebook applications will interact with the new profile page. On the whole, the upcoming updates to the profile page will have a big impact on how users interact with each other and express themselves with applications. In order to get a detailed look at all of these changes, their significance for developers, and Facebook’s hopes for their impact on user experience, I sat down with Ruchi Sanghvi and Josh Elman, Product Managers of the Facebook Platform and leads on the profile redesign effort. Here are all the details.

Developer Documentation & Sandbox

Starting today, developers will have access to documentation on the upcoming profile changes on the Developer Wiki (see links below). In order to create a level playing field, everyone will have the next couple of weeks to read and absorb the changes and think about how they will affect their applications. Starting in late May, Facebook will open a developers’ sandbox that will allow developers to test their apps. A few weeks after the developers’ sandbox opens, Facebook will push the new profile design live to all users. If developers do nothing, their apps will continue to work as is. However, in order to take advantage of new opportunities for integration with the redesigned profile page, developers will need to update their apps in several ways.

With the profile redesign, Facebook wants to give users more control over their profile and make the profile more communication focused. In order to integrate with the new profile design, developers are going to need to adapt to and take advantage of several new integration points on the Facebook profile:

Changes for App Profile Boxes

Application profile boxes will largely be moving to a new home in the updated profile design. The new Facebook profile is getting 5 default tabs: Feed, Info, Wall, Photo, and Boxes. All current profile boxes will be moved to the “Boxes” tab with the update (the title of the “Boxes” tab is still up in the air). The specific migration flow has not yet been determined, but the specifics of how Facebook implements it and helps users decide how to organize their new profile pages will have a big impact on developers. On the Boxes tab, users will be able to add, remove, and organize their profile boxes.

In addition, the Feed, Info, and Wall tabs will have a left-hand column that will hold “main profile” boxes that will be height limited (to about 250 pixels) but otherwise will be very similar to current profile boxes. Users will be able to move their profile boxes between the Boxes tab and the “main profile” area fairly easily. Finally, users will be able to have up to 5 boxes in their “main profile” area – more than that will be put into the “Extended Profile” that developers have come to know well since the initial profile cleanup tool.

The New Info Tab

One of the new integration points for developers in the profile redesign is the new Info tab. This will be a very structured tab, much like the Info sections on the current Facebook profile page, containing key-value pairs on which information will exist in comma separated text or thumbnail lists. Unlike the Info sections currently on the profile page, content added to the Info tab from apps will link directly to the application (not Facebook search results). There will be an in-line editing flow on the Info tab for users; Facebook will provide a suggested type-ahead editing interface.

Users will be able to add content to the Info tab from within application canvas pages (in FBML). After users see a popup confirmation, the content will be added automatically. Each application will get its own section on the Info tab that look much like the different Info sections currently in Facebook’s current profile.

New Application Tabs

Another major new integration point for developers is app tabs. These will be built like “semi-canvas” pages, meaning Facebook will be proxying the images but hitting the apps for the tab’s content. Like profile boxes, app tabs can’t be built with iframes or using auto-play Flash, but developers will be able to build fully interactive FBML pages.

The only place users will be able to add tabs is on the profile itself, using the “+” button to the right of their default tabs, and up to 6 tabs will appear (the rest will be accessible via a “More” dropdown). Facebook will provide a drop-down list of users’ applications, sorted by those they use most. Facebook’s intention for app tabs is that they’ll meet the personal expression needs of those users for whom profile boxes are not enough. However, the page is also a place visitors will be able to initiate interactions, like starting a game. Developers won’t be able to create different views for the profile owner vs. profile visitor – similar limitations to the current app box FBML rules to prevent profile page spam.

Mini Feed 2.0

The focal point of the profile redesign is the new Feed tab. For profile owners and friends, it will be the default tab you see. For profile visitors who aren’t friends, the Info tab will be shown by default (Facebook says this is because it’s more likely you’ll want to learn basic information about non-friends, like where they live or go to college, before you want to learn detailed info about their recent activity).

With the new Feed, there will now be 3 different feed sizes:

  • One-Line Stories. This is very similar to what currently exists on the Facebook profile. In the profile redesign, app developers will still be able to use the API to publish feed stories to users’ profile pages.
  • Short Stories. Short stories will be slightly larger feed stories, that will have limited FBML. Users can embed images and (soon) Flash.
  • Full Stories. These will be up to 700 pixels of free form FBML.

Unlike one-line stories, app developers will not be able to automatically publish short and full stories via the Facebook API. Instead, users will have to approve them. Developers can use feed forms to create multiple versions of feed stories that the user can choose from for publication. When developers want to publish a short or full feed story, users will be given a popup preview of the story, the choice of size (one line, short, full), and the button to approve it. This is a major shift from the current framework of auto-publishing feed stories, but Facebook believes it must give users more control over their profile in this way in order to keep the Feed from becoming spammy.

After a story has been published, users can change which version (one line, short, full) of the feed story is published in their Feed via UI in the feed itself. This means that app developers can publish one line stories automatically, and users can “make them bigger” later on. Facebook will encourage developers to create feed stories in all sizes, so that users can choose which one they like best. Obviously, larger stories are likely to generate more application click traffic than smaller stories.

In addition to being able to publish stories for app users themselves, developers will also have the power to let users publish stories into their friends’ feeds (for example, giving a gift). Once the sender approves the feed story, it will automatically appear in their friends’ feed. However, recipients will be able to change or remove the story later on.

Since removing passive feed publishing earlier this year, developers have been unable to publish feed stories for users not using the app. Now, users will again be able to share app content with their friends not using the app (currently or at all).

The New Publisher

The new publisher flow (a significant upgrade from Wall attachments) will allow users to share content from apps both on their own and friends’ profiles. It’s the main place Facebook wants profile viewers and owners to interact, and this is the change that’s likely to have the most impact on users.

At the top of everyone’s feed will be a way for you to create content on their feed or yours. For example, you may want to add a photo or video, write a note, send a gift or song, draw graffiti, or share links. The interaction will be similar to the way wall attachments currently work. (Facebook thinks of its Wall as just another application that integrates into the Feed’s publisher flow.) When you create content, it will look like a feed story and go directly into the feed. The default feed size will be long for your own profile, short for your friends’.

When you want to attach content to a feed, you’ll be shown Facebook’s default apps (like photos and notes), as well as apps that users have recently used to create content on their feed or otherwise used pretty recently. (In addition, when visiting others’ profiles, users will be invited to use apps that others have recently used to create content on their profile.)

Developers will be able to design the publisher interface that users will use to share content from their apps. For example, users may want to be able to search for songs. And in addition to the “attach-post” flow, developers will have the opportunity to create a multi-step wizard interaction (though like profile boxes, they can’t be iframes, but can be FBML or on-click Flash). Finally, developers will have the option to display a text comment field (or the app can provide that themselves).

Finally, developers will have option to specify different publisher flows for your own vs others’ profile if they want. For example, adding a video would be pretty similar, but it would be weird to send a gift to yourself.

In Summary

The Facebook profile redesign will have a big impact on the developer community. Developers will need to think long and hard about how to make their apps more valuable to users, specifically in the integration points that Facebook is providing. While much of the first year of the Facebook Platform has been about virality, it will be harder for purely “viral” apps that don’t provide much value to users to grow – the second year of the Facebook Platform will be about engagement.

Kicking profile boxes off the default view of the profile page will definitely make it harder for users to discover and re-engage with applications. Facebook must embark on a major user education campaign to help users understand the new tools they have to organize application content on their profile page (specifically, moving boxes between tabs and adding new app tabs) and share application content with their friends (specifically, the new feed publisher).

Ultimately, Facebook really doesn’t want the profile redesign to screw developers. They’re trying to find the right balance between user and developer interests to allow everyone to have a healthy long term relationship. If you have thoughts on what these changes will mean for your applications, now would be a good time to send your thoughts to the Facebook Platform team at developer-feedback@facebook.com. The developers’ sandbox will be opening shortly.

Developer Wiki Resources

Developers can find the official Facebook announcement here.

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Leave a Reply

39 Responses to “Breaking: Facebook Profile Redesign – Detailed Specs & First Impressions”

  1. More Details About Facebook’s Profile Redesign says:

    [...] information at Inside Facebook. CrunchBase Information Facebook Information provided by [...]

  2. Ferodynamics says:

    So basically it will still look like Windows 3.1, lots of boxes.

  3. Long Nguyen » Blog Archive » Longzero is on a Wild Train of Thoughts says:

    [...] Facebook will have a new design for the profile page. That has nothing to do with Longzero, except that I was just told that while typing. There are other details on Inside Facebook. [...]

  4. New Facebook profile page « IT Spot says:

    [...] Justin Smith at Inside Facebook has the scoop on Facebook’s new profile page design, which will give users more granular controls and application developers some new tricks. [...]

  5. nope says:

    More proof that opensocial needs to take them down. Facebook is playing the ‘dance monkey dance game’ a little too often with developers in the last 3 months. Screw that! I’m about to drop my own viral channels into my fb apps and take them off site. FB can kiss my ass.

  6. More changes to Facebook… « Young+Fresh+New says:

    [...] Inside Facebook – “Facebook Profile Redesign – Detailed Specs + First Impressions” [...]

  7. TechCrunch en français » Premiers détails sur les nouvelles pages de profil de Facebook says:

    [...] Plus d’infos sur Inside Faceboo. [...]

  8. Daily Links for May 07, 2008 | johnsumser.com: Recruiting News and Views says:

    [...] Breaking: Facebook Profile Redesign – Detailed Specs & First Impressions Improving the quality of the networking [...]

  9. Chris my247 says:

    Fucking awesome. So I should double the 25k budget we’ve invested in our current app.

    For anyone who’s outsourced their facebook app which will now not work – how are they left.

    Love the great intention of the facebook environment, however it’s getting tedius. Put a price on $1000 for a facebook key – and then we’ll get rid of all the shit that’s pissing off users and clogging up the profile pages.

    CK

  10. FB user says:

    As a fb user, I don’t like it. It looks increasingly like myspace. I like the structure of the current design and you really have to prioritize. The new design seems to encourage the sort of lumping that makes myspace pages unusable – at least for people that don’t want to spend all their time on it.

    I also don’t like pages. To me each additional click significantly cuts down on usage. Again, the best solution for me is to prioritize, not to indulge.

  11. Torsdagsbakis: Google Translate, Facebook-design och mjukvara « Fyra nyanser av brunt says:

    [...] Facebook ska redesigna profilen. Ska bli intressant att se hur det går. Jag som precis börjat gilla den. [...]

  12. Pilgrim’s Picks for May 8 says:

    [...] Facebook has details of the upcoming Facebook profile [...]

  13. Roundup: Facebook’s big profile changes, MySpace misses revenue targets, and more » VentureBeat says:

    [...] already added the application. If you’re interested in the many, many changes happening, see this detailed post by Justin Smith of the blog Inside Facebook and application company Watercooler. The official [...]

  14. Brij’s One More Idea » Myspace’s Data Availability - The walls are coming down says:

    [...] and Myspace are extremely busy in wooing  developers. Yesterday Facebook announced changes in Profile display and API support. Today Myspace came out with a significantly expanded approach to data sharing. Or as they are [...]

  15. Facebook to get a new look « Cindy’s Take on Tech says:

    [...] facebook Looks like Facebook will be unveiling a new profile design in the coming weeks.  This article, written mostly to alert developers of the change, outlines the new style.  The new profile will [...]

  16. More Details About Facebook’s Profile Redesign | DougsTech.com - Tech News, Reviews, and Guides says:

    [...] More information at Inside Facebook. [...]

  17. Facebook profile page redesign « marilynstlouis says:

    [...] I found a list of expected changes on Inside Facebook. [...]

  18. Rachel Rutherford says:

    I love the forward-lookingness of Facebook. How you are thoughtfully and with consideration, looking to the future and how to design it.

    Specifically, I like that you are thinking about how to a) help the users control their Feeds; b) provide meta-information, meta-tools, and categorization; c) put rich info in feeds; and d) basically thinking about hard problems in an intimate, thoughtful, and considered forward-thinking way.

    However — I think you’re about to pull a New Coke, if the curretn profile design stays as is. The current design is a magic elixir of “Everythign you need is visible… everything you don’t need, is not… all in beautiful whitespace with simple tools.”

    Keys: 1) it’s VISIBLE, 2) SIMPLE tools, and 3) beautiful white space. The proposed redesign keeps number 3, but destroys 1 and 2.

    If I have to do multiple clicks — or if my visitors do — facebook just lost its impossibly shimmery charm, where everything I care about is magically visible, at the top.

    This is a complicated problem. I know the researcher at Xerox PARC you should consult about this, though; he is 15 years ahead of the world’s current thinking, and would be a rich addition to your thinking team, especially in this next 3 weeks. Email me and I will introduce you.

    It was also characteristically smart and intimate and respectful of you to publish these anticipated changes in a fairly accessible forum, in time for developers and users to give input.

    Keep up the good work. Iterate. And, my big suggestion — PLAYTEST. When you have what you think works, do several tests with current user and developers. So if the current proposal does have some design flaw that fails horribly, you can find out fast and relatively cheaply.

    Iteration wins.

  19. oleg-puzanov.com.ua » Blog Archive » Breaking: Facebook Profile Redesign - Detailed Specs & First Impressions says:

    [...] Read this news on Inside Facebook [...]

  20.   Guía de cambios en el perfil de Facebook - Iván Mendoza says:

    [...] “Resumen de todo” en insidefacebook [...]

  21. Inside Facebook » First Screenshot of New Facebook Design says:

    [...] a screenshot of the new Facebook UI that will be rolled out in the upcoming weeks as part of the Facebook profile redesign. In addition to redesigning the profile page, Facebook is making some pretty major changes to the [...]

  22. www.ubraniaroxy.pl » Blog Archive » More Details About Facebook’s Profile Redesign says:

    [...] More information at Inside Facebook. [...]

  23. Facebook Redesigned « AlaaShaker’s Weblog says:

    [...] http://www.insidefacebook.com/2008/05/07/breaking-facebook-profile-redesign-detailed-specs-first-imp… [...]

  24. Bill Mckenna says:

    try out:

    netkot.com,

    it is so easy to use and has clean clutter free look. Many features that MS and FB does not have.
    Take a look at netkot.com, you will be glad you did. I am very happy with it

  25. Friendster dying? More like growing « Bits & Bytes make a Bitbot says:

    [...] of noise from the insane amount of Facebook apps that is causing this? Might explain why the upcoming Facebook profile interface will be separating apps from the main profile [...]

  26. Facebooks New Design - More Details says:

    [...] HERE (TechCrunch) and HERE (Official Facebook Blog) [...]

  27. adi says:

    who cares about facebook ruchi sanghvi is hot

  28. Inside Facebook » Old Facebook Completely Going Away Next Week: Turning Point for Facebook says:

    [...] now been nearly five months since we originally broke the news on the details of the Facebook redesign – and even longer since it was announced. Since Facebook’s initial announcements, the [...]

  29. allenbasham says:

    hay bro wats up thing arnt to much harder than it was when you were here last

  30. Facebook to Launch Redesigned Pages for Businesses - Tour & First Impressions says:

    [...] fall, Facebook launched a major site redesign that primarily impacted the profile page, home page, and application developers. With the redesign, the Facebook profile page changed from a [...]

  31. Facebook to Launch Redesigned Pages for Businesses - Tour & First Impressions | Webtrendblog.com says:

    [...] Redesigned Pages for Businesses – Tour & First Impressions Last fall, Facebook launched a major site redesign that primarily impacted the profile page, home page, and application developers. With the redesign, the Facebook profile page changed from a [...]

  32. Will Facebook enforce its policies? « Social games, entrepreneurship and more says:

    [...] developers will go thru a round of iteration with these new features, but as we saw a year ago with the removal of profile boxes (then the most prominent application virality feature), the developers are quick to [...]

  33. Facebook policy changes are a tectonic shift for social game developers « Social games, entrepreneurship and more says:

    [...] developers will go thru a round of iteration with these new features, but as we saw a year ago with the removal of profile boxes (then the most prominent application virality feature), the developers are quick to [...]

  34. Melissa says:

    Your Home Page
    HelpYour Home Page displays interesting content from your friends. Share messages and photos with your friends using the Publisher.
    You control your experience. Learn more about how privacy works on Facebook. how do I get rid of this on home and wall page!!

  35. Laura Nauss says:

    I HATE THE NEW FACEBOOK!!!!! I also know alot of my friends who do NOT like it either. I hate how you can’t see current news feeds and it is just a pain in the butt!!!! Leave well enough alone!!
    PLEASE GO BACK to the previous edition !!!!

  36. שינויים מתוכננים בממשק הפרופיל של פייסבוק « ממשקים says:

    [...] פי הבלוג Inside facebook  בשבועות הקרובים מתוכננים שינויים ניכרים בעיצוב [...]

  37. Facebook plans move to a wider, cleaner tabbed Profile says:

    [...] Inside Facebook, an independent blog, has talked to “Ruchi Sanghvi and Josh Elman, Product Managers of the Facebook Platform and leads on the profile redesign effort” to provide more details. [...]

  38. Daily Links for May 07, 2008 | HR Examiner with John Sumser says:

    [...] Breaking: If you enjoyed this article, please consider sharing it!   /* Subscribe to HR Examiner [...]

  39. A New Facebook « Kelli Burns says:

    [...] http://www.insidefacebook.com/2008/05/07/breaking-facebook-profile-redesign-detailed-specs-first-imp… [...]

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