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Facebook Redesign – Usability, Eye Tracking & Financial Motives

Last week, Facebook rolled out a newly designed layout for users’ profile pages. Just as always, the new profile design has been greeted with warm and cold reactions from Facebook’s 500+ million users. While most social media experts and commentators would argue that the new design improves usability and user experience, very few would notice the subliminal financial motives.

Last week, Facebook rolled out a newly designed layout for users’ profile pages. Just as always, the new profile design has been greeted with warm and cold reactions from Facebook’s 500+ million users. While most social media experts and commentators would argue that the new design improves usability and user experience, very few would notice the subliminal financial motives.

Jakob Neilsen summarises in his blog

Eyetracking visualizations show that users often read Web pages in an F-shaped pattern: two horizontal stripes followed by a vertical stripe.

Webpage F Reading Pattern Eyetracking

The moment I saw a friend’s new profile layout, the first thing that caught my attention was the column of ads along the right hand side. I had to¬†voluntarily¬†accept the new profile design to be able to demonstrate my case. The following is a screenshot of my profile using the old layout. I’ve shown the F pattern over the layout.

Facebook's Old Profile Design

All elements of the profile page seemed to be in good balance. The Facebook wall got the best position and spanned well across the visible (focus) area. The advertisements were placed to the far right and wasn’t really obtrusive. Then came the “yet another” Facebook redesign. Only this time, the design seems contrived.

Facebook's New Profile Design

The F overlay on the profile screenshot has been placed on the same position as it was on the old version of the profile design. The profile image has been moved to the left and the advertisements have been made prominent. They are so prominent that they are hard to be missed.

Is it bad? No! At the end of the day, Facebook is offering a free service to it’s 500+ million users. They need to monetise in order to keep going. So what if they sell our details and data to their advertisers? The best we can do, is to say less on Facebook.