Tech Watch: The New News Feed

Category:  Tech Watch
Wednesday, March 19th, 2014 at 6:09 AM
Tech Watch: The New News Feed by David Hunter, Epic Web Studios

Over a year ago Facebook introduced their new News Feed to the world – and a year later we are seeing a re-introduction to the design. After hearing negative feedback from users who had a sampling of the 2013 News Feed revamp, Facebook changed direction from flashy to functionality for its 2014 redesign.

According to Facebook, "People who tested [the 2013 redesign] told us that they liked the bigger photos and images, but found it more difficult to navigate Facebook overall. The updated design has the best of both worlds: it keeps the layout and navigation people liked, but offers bigger images and photos, as well as a new font."

When the News Feed was first revealed in 2006, it lacked visual appeal and focused mostly on text – highlighting what was happening in user’s social circles. In 2009 it was adapted once more by adding filters to select the type of news users want to see, real-time updates via the stream, highlights to see updates from friends users interact with on a regular basis and placing the publisher to the top of the News Feed to make updates. As the News Feed evolved, Facebook began to concentrate more on the visual elements and changed their layout to make room for larger images and videos. By 2013, the News Feed developed into a hub of information from friends and pages with stimulating visuals, easy navigation and functionality.

While the ‘new new News Feed’ has not been rolled out to everyone yet, we did manage to get a glimpse of it and to our surprise were very impressed with the changes.

Facebook has turned its current News Feed layout into a streamlined, sleek, and minimal design. Features of the redesigned News Feed include larger images and fonts, removing specialized feeds – ones that show you posts or photos from specific groups – and changing up the navigation by placing it on the left side (again). One important note for users to know is that stories (what your friends post) and ads will both be the same size in the News Feed.

In an interview with Mashable, a Facebook spokesperson said, “We want to be clear that this update does not affect ad specs, ads performance, or optimization. These changes are visual updates and do not affect how content is surfaced to people, nor do they change how stories are ranked in News Feed.”

Larger images in the News Feed are a great idea if users are posting high-quality images. Most smartphones have the capability to produce 2048x2048 images (that’s a high-resolution image), but applications tend to reduce the quality. Instagram, for example, will take your original image of 2048x2048 and reduce it to a lower resolution of 612x612 to take up less space on their servers, create a uniform look within their own environment, and allow for faster load time to better their users’ experience before posting it onto their application.

Now, take that 612x612 image and share it on Facebook – you lose the quality. Therefore, we will see large images that are blurry or pixilated when users utilize external apps on Facebook.

A few days after their announcement of a News Feed redesign, Facebook for Business publicized that they too will begin “rolling out a streamlined look for Pages.” Business pages will now look and feel more like a user’s personal profile. The right-side column will display the Page’s posts while the left-sided column will show the business’ information such as a map, phone number, hours of operation, website URL, and photos/videos.

However, some of the greatest features now available on the Facebook Business Pages aren’t visible to the everyday user – but administrators to these Pages are seeing big changes. Not only have they cleaned up the admin interface, but they also made improvements to accessing tools, such as Pages to Watch. This tool allows administrators to compare the performance of their page to those of similar businesses.

Although it took a year for Facebook to consider the feedback that they received from users during the first new News Feed, it was well worth the wait. The down side is our News Feeds will be full of people who do not adapt to change well making statuses about how much they dislike the updates. Can’t win them all, right?

Epic Web can be contacted at Epic@ErieReader.com. 

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