Facebook rolls out user Timeline redesign including new sections for movies, books, apps and more

profileFacebook today announced a wide rollout of a Timeline redesign some users got access to last month.

The new layout puts a user’s posts and life events on the right, and their About info and app activity on the left. This reduces the need for users to look back and forth between two columns to read posts on their page. The About page now gives users more options to show off their favorite movies, books and music, as well as their fitness activity and other stories they’ve shared through Open Graph apps.

No change is being made to business or fan pages today.

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Facebook begins rolling out customizable user About page with larger images, ‘want to watch’ lists and more

profileFacebook has begun rolling out an updated design for the user About page on their Timeline, which now gives users more options to customize their page and features larger visuals and more integration of Open Graph apps.

Reader Matt Navarra says today he was prompted with a pop-up on his profile that said, ”Add things you care about to your all-new About page.”  The new page is appearing for users with the latest design for Timeline, which includes some users in the U.K. and New Zealand. These users can now choose which apps and content types appear on the page and choose the order in which they appear by using the edit icon in the corner. Users have one long page that they and friends can scroll through or jump to specific sections by clicking on titles in the bar across the top of the page.

Sections for Open Graph apps summarize user activity in a Pinterest-like format similar to how these items appear in News Feed. Sections for movies, books, music and other content include new “Want to Watch/Read/Listen” lists.

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Facebook tests yet another variation of Timeline

A new variation of the user Timeline design has been spotted this week, according to The Next Web.

The new layout puts a user’s About info in a box to the left of their posts instead of in the header. Like other designs we’ve been seeing since October 2012, it organizes posts in a single column instead of having posts on both the left and right side of Timeline. There is also an updated publisher box that looks a bit more modern than the existing design. Overall, the top portion of a user’s Timeline is more monochromatic than the design most users currently have.

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You can compare this design to other versions we saw being tested last month and last year.

Image via The Next Web.

Facebook continues to test variations of Timeline layout

Facebook is experimenting with a new Timeline format that puts all of a user’s posts in a single column to the right and apps and other modules on the left.

We first saw Facebook testing a single-column view for Timeline posts in October 2012. Social media consultant Mari Smith got access to a similar layout but with an updated header, which put users names in white on top of their cover photo and eliminated preview images for tabs, in December. Now we’ve seen a similar design, which uses the same header but swaps the columns for posts and activity modules.

new-timeline-design

With this layout, the publisher and all posts beneath it have gotten wider than in the traditional two-column design Facebook has used for Timeline. Modules like “Recent Activity,” “Friends,” “Places” and those for any Open Graph apps are all to the left and they are no longer the same size as posts. Another difference is the control that users have over these modules. Each box has a pencil icon which users can click to then rearrange or hide the module. In the original Timeline design, users cannot move these boxes and they can only hide the ones from third-party apps. Facebook-created modules are not able to be hidden or rearranged.

Life events and other highlighted posts don’t stretch across the page when they are starred. In the original Timeline design, when a user highlights a post, it appears larger than others. Now, posts simply get a blue banner in the corner but otherwise remain the same size as standard posts.

Overall, the layout addresses one of the common complaints about the new profile: users previously had to look back and forth on the page as they scrolled through to read their stream. With this design, the line down the center has been removed, making the profile look less like a timeline. However, the timeline of dates still exists in the top right of the page to jump to a particular month or year. The header is also much cleaner than in the original design. Whether posts work better on the left or right hand side of the profile is unclear.

Thanks to Matt Navara for the tip and screenshot.

Facebook to change ‘subscribe’ to ‘follow’

Facebook says it plans to change the wording of its “subscribe” feature to “follow,” according to an email from a company spokesperson.

Starting today, the subscribe button on the profiles of users who have enabled the option will change to “follow.” This will also apply to the subscribe button on interest lists. Facebook says all functionality will stay the same. The rewording is simply to make the feature more recognizable to users. Twitter of course popularized the use of “follow,” with many other services like Quora and Instagram also using the term.

The social network introduced subscribe for personal accounts in September 2011 to allow for asymmetric relationships between users. Similar to Twitter, people can view content in News Feed from people they don’t know but are interested in. For example, a user can subscribe to public updates from a celebrity without the celebrity needing to approve a friend request. Starting today, people will enable “followers” rather than “subscribers.”

In June, Facebook introduced an Open Graph “follow” action for developers to implement in their apps. With the feature, users can get updates about other users’ app activity within the Facebook News Feed, rather than needing to visit the app to find out about it. It makes sense for Facebook to unify its wording for apps and on-Facebook activity.

The social network has also tested a subscribe button for pages as a way for users to see content from a page within their feed without publicly “liking” it. Facebook tells us the test period of this is over and results are being evaluated. This means there isn’t currently a “follow” button on any pages, just user profiles and interest lists.

Instagram launches web profiles to give users and brands a destination for all photos

Instagram today debuted profiles for the web, giving users and brands a way to display all their photos outside of the Instagram mobile app.

The design is reminiscent of Facebook Timeline with a large visual up top, a smaller profile picture in the bottom left corner and info to the right. However, instead of a customizable cover photo, the top section is rotating collection of a user’s Instagram images. Also unlike Facebook, Instagram does not allow users to quickly jump to a particular month or year in the past. Overall, though, it’s a clean design that maintains Instagram’s unique brand while not veering too far from its new parent, Facebook.

Previously, only individual photos could be viewed on Instagram.com. There wasn’t a way for visitors to discover additional photos by the same user or brand. Now with web profiles, people and businesses can link to their accounts. Users still cannot add new photos, view a feed of friend’s photos or search Instagram from the web.

If an account is set to public, anyone will be able to see the profile on the web by visiting instagram.com/[username]. Visitors do not have to be Instagram users to view a public profile on the web. Private photos will only be visible to logged-in Instagram users that have been allowed to follow the account.

The company says web profiles will launch to all Instagram users in the next week or so. Instagram currently has 14.4 million daily active users connected with Facebook, and 37.2 million monthly active users, according to AppData.

Facebook makes privacy settings more central to new user sign-up flow

Facebook has introduced additional privacy controls and education to the sign-up flow for new users, the company announced today in a note on the site.

In-line privacy controls will allow new users to decide who can see their information from the moment they add it, rather than sharing things publicly by default and having to go back and change it. Facebook has also added tips throughout the process to explain what different settings mean and how some aspects of a user’s account, like the profile picture, are always public. The additional “privacy tour” walks new users through photo tagging, apps and other privacy-sensitive features.

These changes are important for Facebook to build trust among new users. When users feel confident that they can control who sees which posts and parts of their profile, they are more likely to share. The more users share, the more feedback they’re likely to receive from friends, and those Likes and comments are positive reinforcement that make users want to return to Facebook more often. When users share more, Facebook is also able to gather data that can make News Feed, ads and other aspects of Facebook more personalized and relevant.

Last year Facebook overhauled how existing users control their privacy on the site, bringing settings in-line with the content on their profiles and News Feed rather than on a dedicated privacy settings page. Users are now able to retroactively change the privacy setting of past posts and activity, as well as require pre-approval whenever they’re tagged in a photo, checkin or other type of post.

Facebook tests Timeline layout with single column of posts

Facebook is testing a new format for user Timelines, which puts all posts in a single column on the left and any activity modules in a narrower column on the right.

This layout addresses one of the common complaints about the new profile: users previously had to look back and forth on the page as they scrolled through to read their stream. Some users found the two-column layout frustrating. With this design, the line down the center has been removed, making the profile look less like a timeline. However, the timeline of dates still exists in the top right of the page to jump to a particular month or year.

In this test, the publisher and all posts beneath it have gotten wider. Modules like “Recent Activity,” “Friends,” “Places” and those for any Open Graph apps are all to the right, similar to how they are on the original Timeline. The difference in this design is that these modules are no longer the same size as posts, and when there are no more modules to show, the Timeline appears blank rather than filling in with status updates or wall posts.

[Update: Another difference is that life events and other highlighted posts don't stretch across the page when they are starred. In the orignal Timeline design, when a user highlights a post, it appears larger than others. Now, posts simply get a blue banner in the corner but otherwise remain the same size as standard posts. Although this design isn't currently being tested on brand pages, this could be something that eventually affects them.]

Facebook confirmed that it is testing this design with a small percentage of users but did not offer any additional information.

Facebook creates new collage layout for photos section of Timeline

Facebook today announced changes to the photos section of Timeline that makes photos larger and easier to interact with.

Users can also highlight particular photos, similar to how they do on Timeline, to make them stand out among other images. Facebook tells us these changes will apply to personal profiles as well as fan pages, as it rolls out over the next few weeks.

Now when users click Photos at the top of a personal profile or fan page, they will see larger photos that fill up the page. A menu at the top makes it easy to switch between photos of a user, photos a person has shared and albums they’ve created.

A More Beautiful View of Photos

On their own pages, users can click the star button to highlight photos and make them four times bigger. This option makes the photos page more dynamic and collage-like. Users and pages will likely appreciate the additional control they’ll have in showcasing their images and telling their stories. Google+ users will find the design familiar.

On Facebook, hovering over images brings up the title, buttons to Like and comment, and the number of people who have engaged with the photo already. Previously, users did not get any additional information about a photo until they clicked on it. This change could encourage users to interact with more photos as they browse.

A More Beautiful View of Photos

This is the what the previous layout looked like for photos:

Timeline still optional for Facebook users more than 6 months after global launch

More than six months after Timeline launched for users around the world, Facebook still hasn’t made the new profile mandatory.

Timeline, like most Facebook changes, has a large group of critics. But unlike most Facebook changes, this one has been opt-in. The social network has been patient about not forcing users into the redesign, even if it means there are some inconsistencies across the site. Facebook has not set a public deadline for when it will implement Timeline across the site.

Developers — and users who claimed to be developers — could switch their profiles during a beta period between September and December last year. On Dec. 15, 2011, Facebook made Timeline available to any user who wanted it. Although the new profile was opt-in, company spokespeople said Timeline would be mandatory for all users within a few weeks. Previously, Facebook had given users five weeks to convert to a new profile design, but it hasn’t done the same for Timeline.

An informal poll of 17 users found that an average of 62 percent of a user’s friends had upgraded. That percentage was calculated by taking the number of friends that have signed up for Timeline, according to this page, and dividing it by a user’s total friend count. This is slightly skewed since Facebook recently changed friend counts to include users who have deactivated their accounts, but in general, it’s clear there is a significant portion of users who haven’t switched, despite Facebook’s efforts over the past six months.

In December, Facebook began showing prompts on the profiles of users who switched to the new look. Facebook provided early access to celebrities including Britney Spears, and it continues to promote the pages of public figures who use Timeline. In order to use new Open Graph applications, such as social readers and music streaming services, users must upgrade their profiles. The social network has also tried running stories in News Feed about users changing their cover photos or adding places to their map, features that are only available with Timeline. This has been a much slower and deliberate rollout than Timeline for pages, which Facebook made mandatory for all page owners within one month.

Offering an extended opt-in period and promoting discovery through friends seems to have worked well for the first 50 to 80 percent of users, but it’s unclear how Facebook will transition the final group of holdouts.

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