The redesign of Facebook (now commonly known as the New Facebook) has been met with negative reviews from users and the mainstream press that have reported their grievances. There was even a sizable Facebook Group who petitioned the company to revert back to the Old Facebook (an exercise in futility, as the changes recently became permanent).
But what's the problem exactly? Is it merely an aesthetic issue? A functional one? I sampled my own Facebook "friends" (colleagues and friends) on the service to find out.
Some of the responses shed some light on differing expectations between my friends who grew up with the service in high school and college (they tended to be quite unhappy with it), and those old(er) pals of mine, mostly in the professional world, who seemed more accepting and even happy with it.
CIO magazine writer Jarina D'Auria, 22, an unapologetic member of Generation Y, has been on Facebook since 2004 (the year it launched). She understandably has a love-hate relationship with Facebook. Most notably, she was temporarily banned from the service when Facebook mistakenly thought she was a spammer.
On the new Facebook, she particularly disliked how it combines the Wall postings with other news feed activities such as status updates or news that you joined a group or added an application. This, as she put it, makes it look "all jumbled and confusing for navigation purposes. If you wanted to look at someone's wall — which is something most Facebook people like to read — it's harder to see where it is because it's in there with a bunch of other stuff."
Matt Babineau, 24, a computer engineer whom I went to college with and has been on Facebook since the beginning, echoed D'Auria's sentiments about the mixing of content to one feed as overwhelming.
"The newest thing thats annoying is that front page that just tells you everything," he says. "It's almost as if they realized people were stalking other people on Facebook and wanted to help initiate the stalking. It's a bit ridiculous the amount of stuff they tell you."
But the new tabular environment and the moving all activity updates into one area is precisely the reason Jonathan Yarmis, a 53-year-old emerging technology analyst from AMR Research, liked the New Facebook. "Status updates — a la Twitter — are now grouped together in a way that makes sense rather than having these different lifestreams different places on the old Facebook," he says. "I can easily see what's going on with my friends and groups and, for that reason alone, this is an improvement. I find I'm actually checking Facebook more with the new design than before, which is probably the most important metric for them and for me."