March 8, 2013
Mark Zuckerberg, Facebook’s co-founder and chief exec, unveiled a significant redesign of the social network’s homepage yesterday. During the news conference, Zuckerberg explained that he wants Facebook to be “the best personalized newspaper in the world,” with a more engaging “front page,” especially on mobile devices. The makeover is intended to fend off growing competition and attract advertisers.
“The new design of the Facebook News Feed presents bigger photos and links, including for advertisements, and lets users see specialized streams focused on topics like music and posts by close friends,” reports The New York Times. “The changes are designed to address the company’s two most vital challenges: how to hold on to users at a time of competing, specialized social networks and how to draw more advertising dollars to please Wall Street.”
“The topic-specific News Feeds could well persuade users to spend more time scrolling through various streams of content,” notes the article. “And the redesign will offer bigger real estate for advertisers, including more opportunities for brands to feature bigger pictures, which marketers say are more persuasive than words.”
Facebook will use proprietary algorithms to filter what appears in an individual’s News Feed, while users will be able to drill down to topics of interest, similar to the sections of a traditional newspaper. They can also switch to specialized feeds or scroll through people and products they follow, an approach familiar to Twitter users. (It’s worth noting that the Flipboard app “already offers a personalized newspaper in which users choose the topics and publications they are interested in,” explains WSJ.)
The new design was made available to some users yesterday, while a complete rollout is expected in the coming weeks.
“Investors seemed to welcome the new look,” according to the article. “Shares of Facebook rose 4.1 percent on Tuesday, to $28.58. But the company’s stock price remains substantially lower than its $38 initial public offering price last May.”
“The best personalized newspaper should have a broad diversity of content,” said Zuckerberg. “The most important stuff is going to be on the front page,” he added. “Then people have a chance to dig in.”
“This will result in more time spent overall on the Facebook News Feed — and of course, increase engagement with content and ads,” suggests Hussein Fazal, chief exec of AdParlor, which buys ads on Facebook for several brands.
For more on the reasons behind the redesign, Facebook has posted a 2-minute background video on YouTube. You can sign up for access to the new homepage on Facebook’s News Feed page, which has a waitlist for the Web version and indicates that iPhone, iPad and Android versions are coming soon.