What a Social Web Operating System May Look Like

Media Morph: Facebook Profile Redesign

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NEW YORK (AdAge.com) -- Every week Ad Age Digital's Media Morph looks at how emerging technology is changing the way consumers get their information and media companies and advertisers present their messages. This week: Facebook profile redesign.

Facebook profile redesign
WHAT IT IS: Facebook is redesigning its profile pages -- a risky task, considering its members are uber-sensitive to changes by the service. (Remember the outcry that followed its News Feed intro?) But the upgrade is needed, say Facebook execs, to simplify the look of the pages, create better privacy controls and enable the type of high-frequency, bite-size content its users tend to generate.

WHAT'S DIFFERENT: The biggest change is a move from a flat profile page to a tabbed one. There's a feed tab, which displays the dynamic content that resides in a user's mini-feed. Another tab hosts a user's more static information, such as activities and interests. There's a separate tab for photos and another for applications.

THE MARKETER POV: "Instead of encapsulating everything about a person across one page, it's now spread across five," said Peter Corbett, CEO of iStrategyLabs, a Washington-based marketing firm. If that increases page views, it'll be interesting to watch what happens to Facebook's effective cost per thousand. He also said he wonders whether the new design represents Facebook's vision of an "operating system for social web."

The new design also appears more search-friendly, with the search bar located on the top of the page rather than the left rail. A precursor to Facebook nabbing some search revenue?

THE VERDICT FROM OUR OFFICE UBER-USER: The left-hand navigation bar might've been cumbersome, but it didn't take you out of the main experience. It's a bummer that users have to toggle between tabs to play Scrabulous while they complete tasks on other parts of the site. But on the plus side, there's no longer a distinction between photos tagged by you and photos in which other people have tagged you. Another boon: This time Facebook has done a good job of informing users of the changes and soliciting their feedback.
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